Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thursday - 1-31-2013

Thursday afternoon I shot out for a nice 7 miles from my back door.  The weather was incredibly warm early on in the day (low 50s) but it was super windy. I didn't get out until later and by then it was much colder.  A lot of the thin snow out in the open was decimated by the time I got out.  The snow in the woods was still pretty good. Deep in spots and bare in others....I ran up to the Cascades, which was raging from all the melting...then headed up and across to Albert Rd. and up to Chamberlain Ledge, where it was actually flurrying out.  I ran all through the trails in there and did some loops before heading back down.  52:09.

Looking West at Chocorua (zoomed) from Chamberlain Ledge - Madison, NH

Madison Cascades

Albert Rd. Madison, NH

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday - 1-30-2013

Wednesday I headed out for a run before it got dark but the roads were complete crap. Left my house right around 4pm and headed up E. Madison Rd. and then up Pound to the snowmobile trails.  The roads were so bad as they were icing over quickly and getting very dangerous. It was raining and then freezing on the pavement and over the already caked on snow.  I hopped on the snowmobile trails at the SOS clubhouse and took them all the way up to Paul Kirsch's house and dumped back onto E.Madison (after following his Inov-8 prints and the paw prints of his two dogs for a few miles).  Headed back down. Got within view of my house and my calf kind of locked up again...instead of tacking on another 3 miles which was the plan until then, I called it at 7 in 52:14.  Another 1000 ft. of climbing.  Snow was awesome on the trails.  Wet, but not deep...just enough to grip my Mudclaws so I wasn't going anywhere..

Side note...NHPR broadcast on the Sidehiller Snowshoe Race.  If you listen to it, it almost sounds like I lost :)...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday - 1-29-2013

Tempo run...yes, a quasi workout....on the road... 12 miles.  One half of an extended lake bang and back, but the long way  through the winter wonderland that is Silver Lake... From my house, down 113 to 41 and then all the way out to East Shore Drive, down to Lead Mine Rd. (just past it) and turned around.  Hammered on the way out and held steady on the way back.  My calf up high, behind my knee, seized up on me at about 7 miles because of the increased tempo.  I had to stop and stretch quickly.  I haven't done a lot of fast stuff, but the stuff I've been doing in the snow and on the trails/in the mountains has helped build up some strength....I held steady as I backed off just a little the rest of the way.  The roads were sloppy and slick.  East Shore Drive is almost 2 miles out and 2 miles back, and it's completely covered with packed layer of snow and ice but amazingly I didn't slip once.  1:15:56

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday - 1-28-2013

Snowy road and snowmobile trail loop as an easy shakeout w/ KT from my house. Snowing pretty good the whole time.  Plows out everywhere and people all over the road so we decided to do a mile out to the snowmobile trail up E. Madison Rd.  We cut across on the trails to Village Rd. out behind the gas station on 113 and then back up 113 to my house.  Headlamp run. Not too cold. Not too exciting.  Better than a zero.  35:03.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday - 1-27-2013

View of Mt. Washington (snow covered peak in the far distance above the frozen lake)
A good run in the early afternoon on a gorgeous day...sunny and brisk. KT and I headed SOUTH to Brookfield, NH, just west of the Wakefield border to summit Moose Mountain and explore the Evergreen Valley Snowmobile Club trails in Brookfield and Middleton.  Not as long of a run as we had hoped, but the first mile climbs almost 1000 feet.  We hit the summit and then some, as we bushwhacked around trying to find the trail down the back side.  We added on a half mile or so of wandering around in thick woods before finding the trail and heading down into Middleton, then climbed back up and around between Moose mountain's main peak and another smaller one off to the east.  Two counties (Carroll and Strafford) and 2 new towns for Kevin in his townbagging quest.  6.7 miles on his Garmin. Felt like 67.  1910 ft. of elevation gain.  1:18:00. Ran w/ the Microspikes....VERY icy.  See below.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Saturday - 1-26-2013 - Sidehiller Snowshoe Race

Saturday was race #3 in the 2013 Granite State Snowshoe Series. The Sidehiller Snowshoe Race (results) is held beautiful in Center Sandwich, NH.  This was the 7th Annual race (although there were no races held in 2006 or 2012 due to the lack of snow), making it the longest running snowshoe race in the state of New Hampshire.  The Sandwich Sidehillers are a snowmobile and trail club that hosts the race put on by Race Director Paul Kirsch and the White Mountain Milers. The Sidehillers shovel snow onto the street so that racers can cross to the other side from the fairgrounds and dip into the woods for the second portion of the race. The race is also notable for being one of the USSSA National Qualifying races for the Northeast.  Lastly, this race is notorious for belonging to Kevin Tilton, who wins this race just about every year. Kevin has won 5 out of the 6 races leading up to this weekend's race (and those 5 wins were consecutive).  I have had the pleasure of having him beat me 3 of those 5 years (2x second place finishes and 1x third place finish). The race course has also been different 3 of the 4 years I've run it, as Paul has had to compensate for certain weather conditions over the years.  The local landowners have been very generous in letting the race go across many open fields and through some single track that are all on private property. It's become a tradition in Center Sandwich and brings 100 or so folks into an otherwise quiet little town in late January.  It all culminates at Mocha Rizing, a small coffee shop immediately next to the start and finish of the race.  Everyone piles in there afterwards for some hot coffee and food.

Having absolutely zero confidence in winning this race as I've never been able to do so before (even 2 years ago when NH Chronicle was there filming the race...), I headed out to cover the exactly 20 miles to the race from my house, with very little hopes of getting to 300 series points after just 3 races.  I figured it would be similar to years past, where I'd lead the first one or two miles, and then KT would overtake me on the slower, harder stuff, and I'd settle for 2nd. I got to the race way early, as I misjudged the travel time and the fact that the race didn't start at 10, but rather 11!  Needless to say I had plenty of time to stretch and get my legs and feet loose.

After registering for the race and opting not to signup for USSSA Nationals (next year it's in the East, so I'll most likely do it then), I started to see the usual suspects show up.  Lots of acidotic folks, KT, the TNT crew (including Bob Jackman) and others.  I was getting a little concerned about how I felt, due to the fact that I got almost zero sleep on Friday night. My daughter was being extra fussy and was up most of the night (from about 2:30am onward). I didn't get much if any sleep after that time.  So I was working on borrowed time and had a slight wave of nausea on the trip over.  That made me a little nervous about how I'd fare in the later parts of the race, which go across the street, up a decent climb, and across some very slow fields which I tend to have problems on each year for some reason.

I warmed up with KT and Bob and Jackie Jackman, along w/ Scott Mason for the first bit. Scott was having all sorts of wardrobe malfunctions and issues on the warmup so he bailed after a few minutes. I felt really sluggish on the warmup but Kevin was also sandbagging a bit and claiming he was probably not as fit and race-ready as he could be.  A quick change (remembering my bib this time) and I was off to the fields for some more warming up and strides.

This was the 2nd time in 3 weeks I showed up to a race that Nate Jenkins was at and didn't lose to him...that was because he wasn't running, but watching Melissa race in her newly discovered favorite sport of snowshoe racing :)...

Photo by Joe Viger

Photo by Justin Macomber
Photo by SNAPacidotic

91 or so folks lined up and we were off in a clockwise direction around the field (where flags were on our LEFT the entire time. That made it a little strange for wondering how far to 'cut in' on the course, as you are going clockwise and flags are on the outside of your forward progress. I quickly learned that if you cut too far in (and off the groomed track), it didn't help your cause. I headed out in a modest pace and quickly felt like I was laboring. I felt heavy and slow, yet KT and Bob and a few others were letting me take it out. They stayed pretty close to me for the first part of the fairground perimeter loop and I opened up a little on KT, who had opened up a lot on the rest of the field. I really slowed on a couple of the small uphill bumps on the far side of the grounds and could feel Kevin catching me. I really struggled to keep up the pace and knew I was losing it... I just didn't feel fast here, unlike other years.

Photo by Joe Viger

I eventually crossed the road (thanks to the cover that had been shoveled on by the Sidehillers) and hit the single track.  The climb starts pretty much right away and I looked back to see and hear KT running me down like I had stopped and was waiting for him.  He got right behind me as I finished the single track climb and lost all of my lead. It was obvious who was in better shape at that point.  As I hit the first field (which is usually where I completely lose the race) I stepped aside almost immediately and let Kevin go past.  I tucked in behind him and increased my pace to match his and tried to keep within 10 feet of him across the fields and into the single track up and down.

By the time we hit the turnaround at the far end (before the usual last field we used to hit in the old course), I was still on him, but he seemed to be itching to get going.  I was just waiting for him to pull away, but was stubborn and stayed within that 10 feet back.  We started crossing back across the open fields and I stayed right with him.  On the beginning of the descent down in the single track, he moved a little better and was trying to open up on me.  I thought a couple of times about going around him here to maybe rock the downs and try to establish a gap if he wasn't making a decisive move, but I decided not to, as I figured we both had about the same amount of push on the single track downhill section in the end. I kept behind him until one small uphill, where I felt him really try to make a move (which is the best place to make a move on me....he's won many a race doing this in the past, near the end)...I worked that uphill and didn't let the gap open.

Photo by Justin Macomber

By the time we bottomed out and headed back across the street, I felt my race was over. I had little fight left (or so I thought).We hit the groomed trail and over a small bridge back to the fairgrounds and had about a half mile to go. I was completely gassed here and began to think about settling for 2nd.  I really thought I had no kick left at all and Kevin just looked like he was out for win #6.  That was in my head the entire time and I really had zero confidence in my ability to beat him here.  I said 'go ahead Kevin, you got this one' and basically told myself I was giving up.  It was a pretty low point in an OK race I'd run up to that point. I went for it early, like I normally do, then got broken on the difficult section, but fought back and hung tough. Then seemingly gave up with 800 meters to go.  Story of my racing a lot of times, when pressure is on... Kevin opened up a little after I said that and I looked down at the ground and started to accept 2nd place.  This was an exact rehash of 2011 when NH Chronicle was there.

Photo by SNAPacidotic
I found myself looking down, starting to 'mail it in' so to speak, and then I looked up again as we neared the fence that you go through with about a quarter mile to go, and I was making that gap back up.  As I neared Kevin again, I still didn't think one bit that I could overtake him, but I started to pull up on him again, so I yelled out 'come on Kevin' to spark some fight into him. Part of me wanted him to pull away and secure #6...I almost was shying away from a confrontation and 'kick' at the end.  I was hurting and didn't want that added 'hastle' as I was looking at it as.  Pretty lame, but that was the way I was thinking. When I said that, he reacted and pushed one last time up through the fence. I dropped back yet again and this time, thought it was for good.  Then, as we hit the top of a small little gain up to the last 200 meters or so, I looked down for a couple seconds, then looked up and he was right there and no longer kicking away from me. He looked to be gassed as well. I made the decision there for the first time, to go for the win.  I dropped the gear down and went up along side him, staring at the buildings in the distance and knew the finish line was within sight. I literally went up along side as I could see Paul's truck and the people at the finish line.  When I came up next to Kevin, he didn't react. Normally he lets me get within a step or two and then matches my kick and I can't get around...but this time, I just kept going past. It was only with about 150 yards left that I actually KNEW I was going to get the win.  I couldn't believe it.  I played so many mind games over the course of the day and race, that it was a scenario I just couldn't have imagined....I would have bet anything I would have been beaten by KT again by about 9 or 10 seconds and that would have been just fine w/ me.  But instead I pulled out a 3 second win (almost walking across the line as I was completely spent).

See below, the finishing 'kicks' in slow Roger Marcoux (holding a goPro)...

I think the fact that KT hasn't raced since Cape Cod really made the differenc here. I've raced 3 snowshoe races in a row over the past 3 weeks, so I'm 'fresh' when it comes to racing. Even though I struggled for most of the race, KT did as well and at the end, it was pretty much anyone's game.  Most of my good training is done w/ him, so we are doing the same thing no wonder on courses like this, that has a good mix of fast and slow, we're pretty much the same.

NHPR (New Hampshire Public Radio) was there doing interviews and talked to me for a bit after the race...I'll post later on when I know when it will air.

Top 10 Overall

1JimJohnson35East MadisonNHBAA26'07.67
2KevinTilton31ConwayNHCMS / Dion26'11.58
4RyanWzelts32NorthwoodNHAcidotic Racing29'33.36
5DavidCretsinger41WiltonNHAcidotic Racing29'52.45
8ChrisDunn44StraffordNHAcidotic Racing30'44.89
9JeffLitchfield53HopkintonNHAcidotic Racing30'47.67
10PeterKeeney46Bar HarborMECrow Athletics30'49.39

91 Total Finishers.

After the race, we all went over to Mocha Rizing for some coffee and chili. I talked to a lot of cool folks about snowshoeing and the like....then I headed out (and was basically the last to leave). I hit the parking lot again to get out of there, and noticed Paul's truck and mine were the last two.  I headed out on the course, caught up w/ him, and helped him deflag.

Next weekend is the Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo, but I'm not sure of the status. I heard Exeter needs snow, and there's not a lot in the forcast other than some rain and warm temps. Maybe one snowfall mixed in the middle, but I'm not sure how good it looks for a GSSS race this coming weekend.

Photos by Joe Viger

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thursday - 1-24-2013

10 miles of snowmobile trails from White Lake State Park in Tamworth with KT. 5 out and 5 back (on the  'Judson Loop') according to Kevin's Garmin.  Trails were hard packed and nice for running w/ the Orocs.  1:20:18 for the hilly snowmobile trails. Good effort. I've learned to not be ashamed to log 8+ minute miles on my runs now....  They are honest miles over slow and hilly terrain... A lot different than my Merrimack Valley miles I used to do... I know the work is as good if not better than my flat and fast miles I used to be able to do down in Salem, Methuen, Haverhill area during the winter... but most importantly, it's just more enjoyable to me (even though it takes longer to do the same amount of miles now!)...I love the trails and mountains up's awesome being able to run for an hour or two and never see a car or a house or like tonight, even a light (except the moon, stars, and our headlamps).  The wind was bad at first but as soon as we dipped into the woods from the car it was smooth sailing. Hands got cold at first, but warmed up and by the end I was very comfortable.  Probably about 5 degrees or so when we finished. I had 3 pairs of pants on, 4 shirts, a jacket, a mask, thick hat, and 2 pairs of gloves.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday - 1-23-2013

Sub zero temps most of the day but I did get out the door later in the afternoon when the temps were a balmy 3 degrees F.  The height of the afternoon sun...and it was beautiful and sunny all day, just cold as hell.  Hit the roads, snowmobile trails, and dirt roads of East Madison and Silver Lake in one big figure-8 type of loop.  8 miles.  1:03:58.  No excuses (well, I have a lot of them usually, but not today)... I figured anything was better than nothing and I actually turned almost nothing into something decent.  Dressed enough to be almost over-dressed in near zero temps....not too shabby.

Roger Marcoux and DragonFlyAerials posted this latest video of this past weekend's race at Whitaker Woods.

Joe Viger posted a good gallery of images here.

Image stolen from Joe Viger's Awesome Photo Site

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday - 1-23-2013

Tuesday night I met Kevin Tilton over at his palatial estate on the banks of the Saco for a run out his back door on the trails he seemingly can't bring himself to ever run on for some reason (they are awesome in my opinion).  They connect literally from his backdoor all the way out to a vast network of trails maintained by the Mountain Meadow Riders Snowmobile Club.  There's actually work in progress to apparently connect those trails to the Madison tail system, which would be awesome.  It would mean I could literally hop onto the trails right down the street from here (not even a mile) and wind my way over to his place all on snowmobile trails if I wanted.  It would be a 'long' run, but not too bad... we hit the snowmobile trails in rather blustery conditions (and w/ yaktrax and headlamps) and ran out to the railroad trail that goes eventually into Fryeberg, ME.  We went out 5.2 and then back 5.2.  10.4 total.  1:25:40. Snow was a little loose along the tracks and just a little bit of give in the single track.  The snowmobile trails off of the tracks were pretty firm.  Good solid run.

NH Age 36 Individual State Records

1988 Wilton 15k - Photo by Scott Mason

In my ever expanding search to try to find things to motivate me and my running and racing, I examine the NH individual age records for the NH roads this year, as I will turn 36.  Other top NH runners who will be 36 at some point this year, and in the hunt for records (whether they know it or not) are Justin Freeman and Greg Hammett.  Both of these guys are racing inspirations for me because they both seem to be getting faster w/ age.  I have some hope when I see these guys still moving towards PRs and running the same times they were 10 years ago for some races...

All this information taken from (Look at NH State Records, click on distance, then scroll down to the bottom of the lists to see the links to the individual state records).

NH Age Records for Age 36 

'Officially' the NH State Age Records (NH residents in NH races) for my age this year (turning 36 in April) are:

4k - 17:29Judd Duclos (Manchester NH) - 4k on the Fourth - Concord, NH - 2010
5k - 14:57Craig Fram (Hampstead NH) - Healthsource Corporate Road Race - Manchester, NH - 1995
6k - 22:10 (tie) Nate Hawkins (Nashua NH) and Tyler Brannen (Nashua NH)  - Medical Center - Nashua, NH - 2007 / 2009
8k - 24:33Mike O'Brien (Durham NH) - Red's Shoe Barn - Dover, NH - 1997
10k - 31:47 - Chuck Moeser (Thornton NH) - Fred J. Hackett Autumn Run - Concord, NH - 1987
12k - 38:27 - Mike O'Brien (Durham NH) - Bedford 12K - Bedford, NH - 1997
15k - 55:45 - William Leghy  (S.Acworth NH) - Wilton 15k - Wilton, NH - 1990
10M - 55:54 - Michael Cooper (Freemont NH) - Chubb - 1992
20k - 1:19:07 - Erik Fey (New Boston NH) - Bedford 20K - 2002
1/2M - 1:11:58 - Scott Rowe (Dover NH) - Big Lake - Alton, NH - 2010
Mar - 2:30:28 - Chuck Moeser (Thornton) - Clarence Demar - 1987

I actually own the Age 33 record for 5k (believe it or not) - 15:08 at Cigna in Manchester in 2010.  The funny thing is that the age 19-32 are all sub 15:00 and 34-39 are also all under 15:00!  Then Fram ran 14:58 at age 41 in 2000.  So from 19-42, every time but 2 are under 15 and I'm one of those two!  Weak, but I'll take it :).  Justin Freeman must not have run any 5ks in 2010 :)...

I also own (for the past number of years) the 6k record for Age 31.  Since I believe there is only one  6k in the state (I could be wrong but I believe that to be the case), it's a shoe-in to get the state record if you are fit in and around the time the Medical Center 6k is run in Nashua.  I ran 19:06 in 2008 when I ran for MVS.  In 2011 I ran faster (18:59), but Justin Freeman is my age and killed it that year, so the 19:06 will have to be the only one (for now) that will show up in the record books.

Looking at some of the other times and distances, I will say that I believe there is only one 4k in NH (again, if anyone knows any different, please let me know)....That is the 4k on the Fourth in Concord, NH.  It is described on it's website as the only certified 4k course in NH.

The 8k/5M distance I'd say is out of reach. Mike O'Brien was a beast and his Age 36 record at Red's Shoe Barn (which isn't a very fast course) is pretty stout.  I'm looking clean past that, as I have never run that fast at any age.

The 10K is a stretch but may be possible at Rye or some other relatively flat/fast 10k if I am somehow able to get into the best shape of my life...not likely, but not completely out of the question.  31:47 is fast, but only a tad faster than I ran at Rye a couple years ago (6 seconds). I'd have to PR, but it's 'possible'.

The 12k....forget it.  I'm not sure if there are any other 12ks around other than Bedford Rotary and it's a pretty good time there.  5:09 pace for 12k. I'm not saying it's impossible, but probably close.  I've never run well there in 2 tries...not sure, but I'll say the 12k can stay w/ Mike O'Brien for the time being.

The 15k...There may only be one official 15k in the state now (Bow Lake in Strafford, NH) and it's not exactly fast from what I can see, but the Age 36 record is close to 6 minute pace, so I think I may be able to get this one...oh's the day after Mt. Washington.... ok nevermind :).. Years ago, the Wilton 15k would draw a good field (I believe it hosted the NEAC championships).  All of the open and all comers records are from Wilton.

The 10M.... This is doable.  55:54.  The trick is finding a 10M in NH  that doesn't run up mountains. Chubb was the 10M (not around any longer) that has all the records for the most part.  Millenium running hosts the NH 10 Miler in August.  That's a possibility. There's a 10 Miler in Hampton Falls in November...There's the Granite State 10 Miler in Concord in October which Greg Hammett won last year at age 35 (in 55:25)...the Age 35 record was 54:05.  There's the Moose on the Loose 10M in Nashua, but that is a trail race... The Belmont 10 Miler in Belmont NH in August is apparently slow and hilly as well.  And of course...there is Pack Monadnock... The course record is a 'soft' Eric Morse in 1999.  Ok, just kidding.  That 58:35 by Morse has got to equate to a sub 50 on a flat/fast course....I'm sorry, but that is insane.  If anyone knows of any other 10 Milers in the state, let me know.

The 20K....I am not sure about any 20K's in the state now... Every age record except a few were set at the Lions Sizzler in Bedford, which I believe only lasted until the early or mid 2000s (didn't do too much research on this).  A few were set at 'Applefest' in 1984 and 1985.  Other than that, I don't see any age records set after 2003 (at Bedford).

The 1/2 marathon...this is definitely doable if I can find the right race.  There are A LOT of half marathons in NH now...Steve Wolfe (who used to run and blog) was keeping track of Half Marathons in the state back a couple years ago here.  I believe there has got to be even more now.  Sub 1:12 is possible but I just need to find a course that isn't too hilly, and a time that fits my schedule....oh yeah, and some fitness.

The Marathon surprised me. 2:30.  I'm not sure how many sub 2:30s I have left if any.  There are a few marathons in the state to choose from, including Demar, which is where the record was set.  Not sure what to think about this one.  Manchester isn't fast, but it was won in 2:24 this past year. Patrick Moulton ran relatively easy in 2011 and broke 2:30 there. I ran hurt and ran just under 2:39.  It would be tough to do it there. I think another course would have to do, although I hear the Manchester course changed this past it could be better suited to a faster time now than it was in 2011.  It's the USATF NE GP championship this coming year, so we'll see!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Race

Photo of the starting line by SNAPacidotic
Saturday was race #2 in the 2013 Granite State Snowshoe Series put on by acidoticRacing and sponsored by Snowshoe Magazine.  The host race was Kevin Tilton's Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble (results) at the Whitaker Homestead in North Conway, NH.  The race is a fundraising event to benefit the Mt. Washington Valley Ski Touring Foundation.  This was the third year in a row this race has been held and part of the GSSS.

This year it was great only having to drive 15-20 minutes up the road to the race.  I woke up in the morning to a nice dusting of an inch or two of fresh snow everywhere and it was snowing pretty good heading up Rt. 16 through Conway. I made it to the race early so I could run over the course w/ Dave  Dunham and flag some of the trails that we didn't want to do until this morning (because it was still being used by skiers last night after we left).  We also had to tape across the stakes that had been set by Kevin yesterday afternoon.  We headed out at about 8:15 and did the entire 4 miles of the course, which had a nice top layer of powder on top of the already groomed xc ski trails.  I then ran another mile + on snowshoes back up to a junction to set more flags, then back down and around the field a bit to warm up right before the race.  My foot was starting to kill me on the way back down from flagging the last bit.  It was the worst pain I've had in a while in the foot...but after stretching a bit at the car and staying loose right before the race, it seemed to get better by the time the race started.

74 brave souls endured the cold morning and snow flurries to make their way out on the slightly longer than 4 mile course.  I got off to an OK start and moved ahead by the middle of the field.  I headed into the woods and started the small climb up the first of a few hills.  I probably felt the worst during this section. I just felt flat and gassed.  I am not sharp at all and it takes me a while to warm up to the pace and effort lately.  The more I race the more I hope to get back that edge.

Photo of my bad start by SNAPacidotic

Trying to stay ahead of Kristina and near Chris Dunn... by SNAPacidotic
Photo near the start by Justin Macomber
By the time we popped up and down and around the first half mile of the course, it was climbing time.  The major climb begins in the first mile and lasts for maybe a half mile or so.  It's pretty steady, but not steep.  The condition of the trail made it relatively easy, as most any line you picked was pretty solid and had minimal affect on your pace.  Halfway up the climb, I turned to see that Chris Dunn appeared to be in 2nd and a slew of people lining up behind.  It seemed from the vantage point, that everyone was close...but going uphill for an extended period of time makes that illusion that everyone is right there running you down.

As soon as I started the descent off what has to be one of the highest if not the highest point of the course, I started to open it up a bit.  I felt pretty burnt out, but kept up an honest pace as I shot down and around and back up to the second major climb, which is the same uphill section we do in the Summer Series at Whitaker on Tuesday nights.

After summiting the second of the two big climbs, it's mostly all downhill, with some moderate rollers.  I hit the powerline section and looked back a few times but didn't see anyone.  The powerline stretch hooks a sharp right an hits some sloppy single track for a stretch before winding it's way back down to the powerlines again, but further down the course.  Then you run back down the powerlines continuing for a bit before hooking left and back up the other side for a stretch until you hook right and back onto the xc ski trail in the woods.  From that point, it's a load of on and off xc ski trail (groomed) and single track cut-across sections (ungroomed).  I tried to maintain pace in this section but just felt a bit tired.  I knew at this point, I had the race in hand (unless my foot blew up).  It's all flat in this section and the last mile has got to be the easiest for sure.

Photo by Justin Macomber
I passed a few photographers and spectators during this last stretch so you know you're getting close.  Then the race dumps out onto the field, where you do one full lap around the perimeter before hitting the finish line.  I was glaring at my watch over this last section and over the last few minutes, wondering what the time was going to be.  I had forgotten that I broke 27 minutes back in the first year (2011).  I ran 26:53 then on a slightly shorter course (not by much) distance-wise.  Then in 2012, I ran slower but still won in 27:27.  This year, I cruised into the finish in 26:56.  I really wish I knew I ran 3 seconds faster in 2011 and I may have been able to find a kick to try to PR on this course, but alas I am happy w/ a sub 27 and a third win in a row here at Whitaker Woods.  Because the course was slightly longer, I think my effort was probably the best it's been.  I don't quite remember the exact conditions last year, but I think they were fast and I believe the course was pretty firm in most spots, so I'll gladly take a faster time from this year.

The prize for winning was yet another homemade goodie courtesy of the Tiltons (last year it was a big gold championship belt like the wrestlers get, and 2 years ago it was a snowfall measuring stick w/ some clever depth indicators on it).  Jess worked w/ the shop teacher at Kennett to create this lovely wooden snowshoe cutting board (she did the design).  I also got a $25 gift certificate to the Moat.  Scott Mason is 20 for 20 in winning something at the GSSS raffles.  I was just about to joke right before the last prize was announced, that Scott hadn't won anything and it was a big surprise....when to NO ONE's surprise, he won the LAST prize in the raffle.  I say it's fixed.  :)

Top 10 Overall

831:48ChuckHazzard52Trail Monster Running

74 Total Finishers.  Full Results Here.

I cooled down a couple more miles over the course, picking up some flags.  Foot started to bother me again, so I called it at 2 miles.  11 miles total for the day, all on snowshoes.  Then home to see my girls!!!

Here's a video taken by Tim Lindsey again w/ his GoPro (of the first 11 min. or so):

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thursday - 1-17-2013

Thursday night I headed over to Whitaker Woods in NoCo to run over the course with KT.  This Saturday is the Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble ... It's Kevin's race that he puts on over at the Whitaker Homesite. It's also the scene of the Summer Trail Series that the WMM puts on.  We ran 2 bangs of the course on snowshoes (one in the right direction and one in the reverse direction).  33:53 and 33:08 (1:07:01 total for 8 miles on snowshoes). The second loop was faster despite having steeper uphill climbs and being confusing at times as to which way to go.  The course is in great shape.  The snow we got on Wednesday covered the few bare spots that existed under some of the deep wood tree cover.  The rest of the course was groomed nicely after the snow fell, and the low temps between now and race morning will ensure it won't go anywhere.  The course is going to be FAST.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wednesday - 1-16-2013

Wednesday night I headed out just before dark with the Yaktrax.  It was snowing pretty steady and had been snowing since before I woke up today.  4 or so inches on the road and very slick conditions called for the Yaktrax and the late hour called for the headlamp. It was an awesome run.  I hit the same  10.7 mile loop I did on Monday night w/ KT, although today I was flying solo.  The effort was great and the conditions were tough, but it made for an awesome loop.  The first and last 2 miles were messy and busy w/ traffic along Village Rd (113) (although everyone was driving slow because of the storm).  The middle 7 miles consisting of North Division Rd, Salter Hill Rd, Savary St, and High St. were all completely unplowed and it was a winter wonderland out there.  Just a beautiful run...and dead quiet.  Only a handful of houses and farms spread out along that stretch through Madison and Tamworth and a lot of thick woods.  Felt like I was the only one alive out there.... It was a little slick due to the base of icey dirt road underneath the freshly fallen snow (and zero tire tracks to follow) but I kept the pace steady.  A full 2+ minutes faster than Monday for the same loop - 1:17:10.  1000ft of elevation gain.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday - 1-15-2013

Tuesday night I headed over to Whitaker for what will probably amount to my rest day this week.  I met Roger, Justin, and Kevin for a very easy shakeout 4 miles on the roads of NoCo (the normal Cranmore loop but without the Rt 16 stretch) and then another 4 over the entire Whitaker course with KT scoping out the conditions for this coming weekend's snowshoe race.  Wednesday's anticipated storm should help out the barespots we came across in the deep woods.  The rest of the course where the groomer had done it's work, is in pretty good condition and it should be fast!  1:14:03 total.

The start/end field conditions on Tuesday morning courtesy of Kevin Tilton

Monday, January 14, 2013

Monday - 1-14-2013

Monday night KT met me at my house in Madison for a loop in Madison and Tamworth.  10.7 moderately hilly dirt and paved road miles (mostly dirt) in 1:19:29.  Link to Kevin's data here.  The weather was 20+ degrees colder by 5:00 when we headed out (compared to the mid 50s it was during the day).  The sled run I built on Sunday w/ my niece and nephew and brother was decimated by the warm temps over the past few days, but the base of it is still there... looking forward to the additional snow we're supposed to get tomorrow (as well as the low temps for the next 10 days+).  Conditions at Whitaker this weekend should be pretty good.

I came across this video of the start and first part of the Beaver Brook course filmed by Tim Lindsey (acidoticRacing).  Good stuff.  I have honestly thought about wearing my GoPro a few times in races...and almost did at Ascutney last year...but I always forget to pack it.  Maybe one of these days...

If you listen closely at 2:24, Mike Amarello correctly calls the right Top 3 before the race even begins....pretty knowledgeable race director!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race

Photo by SNAPacidotic
Saturday I woke up at 5:30 am and was out the door about an hour later in the ridiculous ice skating rink that was my driveway and local roads heading south out of the valley.  It took me a couple minutes to actually get out of my driveway and then I spun out twice within the span of 5 minutes as the roads were a solid sheet of ice.  I made my way across the top of Lake Winni and hit 93 S for a ride down to Hollis, NH for a run at Beaver Brook (results), which was the first race in the 2013 Granite State Snowshoe Series presented by acidoticRacing and Snowshoe Magazine.  This was to be only my second race since August (as I am sill nursing a bad foot). I'm also not in ideal racing shape yet, but I need these types of efforts to get there.

I was surprised at the amount of decent snow in Hollis.  On the way down 93, the snow (north of Concord and even down to near the Manchester area) was VERY thin in spots and my hopes weren't really high for the snow down in southern NH.  When I pulled into Beaver Brook it was apparent that the snow cover was well preserved on the trails and they were nicely packed and relatively fast.  I warmed up with Melissa Donais over the first mile or so of the course and then back.  I tried to stay loose and stretch out the leg and foot before the race as best I could. I was really nervous and not sure what to expect.

As the race started I had to cut across to the one packed line that had been cut up the first field section of the course.  It was one person wide and Steve Dowsett (Whirlaway) had lined up right in front of it, so I let him take it out up the first 100 yards or so before the course turns sharply onto the groomed xc ski trails.  As we took the turn onto the ski trail section, I pulled out next to Steve and went right around him.  My thought process was that I needed to just run my race early and whatever happens happens.  I needed to just try to go out like normal for the first mile or so.  If my fitness or foot fails me, so be it.  But if I just sat and didn't make any moves, I'd regret it later.

Photo by SNAPacidotic
I continued to push up onto the single track section which winds up and down and around sharp corners for the first mile or so of the course before following along the shore of Beaver Brook.  It was in this section that I started to look back and no longer could see Steve in my rearview.  Steve had won Turner Trail last weekend and was not too far back of the infamous Josh Ferenc at Prospect Mountain.  So he's been out pretty good on snowshoes this season already and I've got 12 years on him I was pretty nervous.  When I got a pretty good lead through a mile +, I started to think I could maybe hang on and win this thing.

Photo by SNAPacidotic
After following Beaver Brook for a while, the single track dumps out onto a wide xc ski trail and I really started to feel a little tired over that section but was continuing to build a lead to my surprise.  Eventually that stretch hooks right and goes up a nice hill that is probably the biggest hill on the course. It's not really too bad, but it's right in the middle of the race and is enough to really interrupt any sort of groove you have.  At the top of that climb, it cuts up into single track again for most of the last mile +.  

The single track section goes up and down and is very windy in this section with 2 more decent uphill climbs and eventually it comes back out to the field where you started from.  Mike Amarello (the RD) said they lengthened the course this year by about a tenth of a mile or so.  Looking at my time, I was a couple minutes slower than 2 years ago when we last ran this course (Beaver Brook was cancelled last year due to no snow). This is the longest BB course so far.  I'd say w/ the added section and the snow being a little worse than the thin ice cover we ran on 2 years ago (this year it was pretty wet and sloggy in spots), my time wasn't too bad considering.  I finished up and felt pretty decent foot-wise. I was more concerned during the race with my fitness and cardio, but held up fairly well.

I cooled down with Steve and Carolyn Stocker (who was 7th overall and first woman) over the last part of the course and some of the xc ski trails before calling it a day. I didn't want to do too much w/ my foot not being 100% and w/ the race out of the way.  

Top 10 Overall

122:356:57Jim Johnson       BOSTON ATHLETIC ASSN 35Madison NH     
224:427:36Steve Dowsett                          24Newburyport MA 
325:017:42Ryan Welts        ACIDOTIC RACING      32Northwood NH   
425:027:43David Cretsinger  ACIDOTIC RACING      41Wilton NH      
526:008:00Chris Dunn        ACIDOTIC RACING      44Strafford NH   
626:078:03Ryan Proulx                            33Portsmouth NH  
726:408:13Carolyn Stocker   WMAC-DION            20Westfield MA   
826:518:16Kristina Folcik   ACIDOTIC RACING      35Northwood NH   
926:528:16Jeffrey LitchfieldACIDOTIC RACING52Hopkinton NH
1027:038:20Cort Cramer35Maynard MA   

98 Total Finishers.

Photo by SNAPacidotic
Photo by SNAPacidotic

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday - 1-11-2013

Friday I met Kevin Tilton (yes, Kevin Tilton) at Staples on Rt. 16 in NoCo for a snowmobile trail run.  We did a nice 8 mile loop starting across from Staples, down along the railroad tracks heading south and then eventually across behind LL Bean up past Kennett H.S. and down behind Walmart and back along North South Rd. to Staples again.  Good headlamp loop.  Snow was still packed enough to make it a good run w/ the Inov-8s. 61:00.  Foot was ok, not great but not bad.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thursday - 1-10-2013

Well this was the day my daughter was SUPPOSED to be born on...but we got her 18 days early (nice tax break for 2012 I guess)... Work is still super crazy and sleep is few and far between because of the baby but I'm managing to drag my rump out there...despite a foot issue that is just apparently  permanent, I was able to get out for a good solid 10 on the roads and snowmobile trails.  I wanted to keep it flat (as flat as you can around here) so I headed down 113 to Silver Lake and hopped on the SOS snowmobile trails that go south along the western side of the lake. This is actually the old railroad tracks so it's nice and flat.  I did see two snowmobilers out along the power lines after dark, but no one else.  The snow was nice and packed but just a little bit loose, making it just slightly strenuous.  Good workout for the legs for sure. Total time: 1:10:44.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wednesday - 1-9-2013

Catching up w/ the week here...

Monday was a recovery day for me as I really don't want to rush too much into anything with my foot still an issue (although stretching and staying ahead of it is keeping it somewhat at bay for now).  Since it bit me hard at the end of Sunday's long session, I took it easy and did a nice easy 3 miles out and back on East Madison rd. after work.  Almost took a zero but decided 3 is better.

Tuesday I planned on running twice (and probably could have) but juggling a brand new baby and a TON of extra new work load (which I welcome, believe me....job security is a good thing) really prevented me from getting out again. I had every intention of going back out around 7:30 or so but decided the 6 I did earlier at lunch (43:30) out and back on E. Madison Rd (including the climb to the top and back down) was enough.

Wednesday (today) I got out for a nice easy 6 down to Silver Lake, onto 41 for a bit, and then back.  I did that at lunch in 41:05. The weather was pretty nice and it suited me well, as I had meetings strewn out all over the map today including another late one.  After my second late meeting in a row, I got out again tonight for another 6.  This time I hopped on the snowmobile trails along the west shore of Silver Lake and headed south for a bit before turning around and heading back.  Ran exactly the same time as earlier today (41:05).  12 on the day.

Not exactly setting the world on fire, but trying to get the daily runs in and build up.  The most important thing (running-wise) is to try to get back to a normal feeling in my left foot. It's been since August and it's still there (actually resurfacing recently after I thought it has gone away).

Of course THE most important thing in the world to me isn't running related at all, but rather priorities have changed slightly...and for the better :)...

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday - 1-6-2013

Sunday I was up early again after a pretty broken up night of the baby waking up every 1-2 hours.  She struggled this morning with an upset tummy so I was up early with her trying to calm her down and make her feel better.  Just after noon time, at the height of the day's temps and sunshine (it was flurrying pretty good during the morning before the sun came out), I headed out for a 14 mile snowshoe run from my house in Madison.  I went up E. Madison Rd for 1 mile on the road before putting on the snowshoes and heading out on the Scrub Oak Scramblers snowmobile trails for about 12 miles through Madison and Freedom before hitting the road and back to the house (1 mile from the clubhouse back to my house).  I hit junctions G, E, U, V, T, M, and Q.   Left foot cramped up pretty good right before I got to the end of the snowmobile trails and my right calf cramped up on my about a half mile from my house...good timing I guess.  Good solid run on a beautiful day.  1:57:35 total.

Weekly Wrap Up: 60 miles on 6 days (all 6 days of the new year)... not a bad way to start off the year...just got to stay healthy and keep chipping away at getting somewhat fit again...

Mike Beeman's driveway...

East Madison

East Madison

View from Goe Hill section of the trails....

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Saturday - 1-5-2012

Saturday was a busy day and while it was nice and sunny and relatively warm (considering), I still didn't get out the door until about 5:30pm. The reason I didn't go earlier is because late on Friday night I woke up with a horrible pain in my GOOD foot!  It was so bad across the top and wrapping around to the arch, that I had to hobble downstairs and get the ice pack.  I iced it all night (fell asleep with it on) and wore my night splints the rest of the night. I woke up and it was better.  I did some stretching and massage (w/ the stick) and it got much better.  I went to a few antique shops in Maine and NH with Kristin and the baby during the day and didn't get back until dinner time.   By the time I got out for my run (in the damn dark) it was my OTHER foot (the one that usually bothers me) that started to give me a little problem.  I ran through it and felt OK towards the end.  I headed up E. Madison Rd. to the top and down a little of the other side to the house that Kevin almost bought (across from Paul's) and then headed back down then past my house and down 113 to 41 and back.  Solid 10 in 1:09:31.  Lots of stretching and massage afterwards.  Need to schedule another appointment with the therapist soon.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Friday - 1-4-2013

Friday, KT met me at my house for a repeat of yesterday's loop of road/snowmobile trail here in East Madison.  We headed out just after 6pm and there were a few flakes in the air but it was around 30 degrees, which feels quite nice considering the last week of temps we've had.  We ran nice and easy up to where the snowmobile trail cuts across E.Madison Rd (the first time) which is one mile from my house. Immediately we noticed the condition of the trail was much deteriorated from yesterday.  It warmed up enough today where the snow got a little soft.  Even though it was nicely groomed, the snow was just soft enough to make the footing annoying and the effort more taxing.  About 5 minutes into the trail, I landed on my right foot on a downhill section and went flying.  Slid right down hard onto my tailbone and scraped up my right elbow as I went sliding down the hill on ragged icy snowmobile track.  I'm surprised I didn't bump the back of my head on that fall.  I had to stop for a moment to wipe the tears from my eyes and to give Kevin a chance to stop laughing before we continued on.  It was a slow slog but not as brutal as breaking tracks.  We got to the junction at Lead Mine Rd. about 7 minutes slower than I did yesterday.  Then headed back on a decently packed dirt road to E.Madison Rd. again and back.  1:06:38 total for the 8.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday - 1-3-2013

Woke up to -2 degrees outside my kitchen window... got better sleep (slightly) as the baby actually fell asleep at about 11 and didn't wake up until 3.  Then from near 4 until I got up around 8, she slept!  It felt weird only getting up once throughout the night.

Waited until mid-day when I could get away in the height of the day's temps (in the teens) to do my run.  Ran from my house, up East Madison Rd. and then hopped on the SOS snowmobile trails that cut all the way down to Lead Mine Rd.  Then came back on Lead Mine to E.Madison Rd. again.  So about 4 miles of roads (Lead Mine was packed snow and ice for 2 miles) and 4 miles of groomed snowmobile trail (runnable with regular road shoes as it has been VERY cold lately).  Felt pretty strong. Went out hard and finished hard...cruised on the snowmobile trails.  Still got a long way to go, but getting it done.  55:42 for a hilly and snowy 8.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tuesday - 1-2-2013

Tuesday night I headed over to blustery Whitaker Woods and met up w/ Roger and Kevin. We ran a nice easy first 4.5 on the groomed XC ski trails and then Kevin and I did the normal 5.5 loop in reverse...up 16 North to Intervale Cross Rd. up to Kearsarge Rd. to Old Bartlett Rd. and down past Cranmore and back.  Very easy on the first bit, good effort on the last bit.  Cold as hell headlamp run.  1:24:58.  New Macbook Pro on the way...Today was better than yesterday (so far)...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Monday - 1-1-2013

Well, after spilling water all over my Macbook Pro I am probably not going to be able to do much video editing for a while.  That was the 2nd crappy thing that happened on the first day of the new year (so not off to a good start).  The first crappy thing that happened was falling to pieces while trying to climb Potash Mountain with Kevin Tilton in the a.m.

I met Kevin at the Downes Brook / Mt. Potash / UNH trailhead off the Kanc at 8am. Our plan was to go up the Downes Brook Trail all the way up to the Kate Sleeper Trail and then turn and head back down.  It was my idea for a redline but not a good one as it turns out that it wasn't packed out at all.  Just the beginning part up to the XC ski trail had had foot traffic.  The rest of it was deep, untouched  snow and we 'ran' on it for only a couple of minutes before both deciding it would take probably 4 hours to do 5 miles at that rate....we turned and headed back down and decided to go up Potash instead.  It would be way shorter so we could add on a little on the XC ski trails if we needed to.  We hooked over and headed up the Mt. Potash trail, which was nicely tracked out by previous snowshoers (including one guy that we saw on his way down as we started the climbing).

Needless to say, back to where this sucked... I really struggled on the climbing. I'm not sure if it is because of my sleepless nights recently...but I'm hoping it is.  Since the baby, I've gotten zero solid sleep.  I guess it caught up to me after a week +.  I walked / power hiked a lot of the climb and just felt lousy.  The conditions were good but it's still pretty tough to climb up a mountain on snowshoes, so maybe I just was expecting something a little different.  Most of the snowshoeing I've done so far doesn't have that much climb.  In any case, Kevin had to keep waiting for me and I was toast by the first spot with a view (and still had a good climb from there).

We hit the summit, took some pics and video, and then headed back down.  I wasn't in the mood to spend any time.  Just a real blow to my confidence.  The good news is that my foot felt fine.  The bad news is that my fitness is in the toilet.  I'm debating whether to actually race any snowshoe this winter or to just wait until Spring and try to get fit.  I bailed on the xc ski trail add-on, got in my car, and sulked as I headed back home early.  Total up and down for Potash: 52:35.

In the p.m. Kevin and I ran from his palatial beach condo on the edge of the mighty Saco.  Headlamp run east on NH rt. 302 then up Stritch Rd. for an out and back (the road is a dirt road that was nothing but packed snow and ice).  Not one car passed us which was awesome.  Slow going a bit because of the slippery conditions, but a nice pm run to get me to 10 for the day.  Snowy road run: 40:23.

Totals: 1:32:58 for 10 in the snow and mountains.