Monday, March 25, 2013

The video...

A quick video to go with the photos from my Crossan Cup writeup from the other day... If you want to see  what is like to give it your all in a race (unlike what I did this weekend) watch this.... (the camera footage says it's Jan 1, 1993's obviously wrong. It's from June, 2004.)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Training Week: 3-18 - 3-24

Weekly Wrap Up: 62.3 miles for the week. A DNF at a great race I enjoy hurts a little, but I know that I simply wasn't ready to bang 20 miles at sub 6, one week after draining my half-filled tank at New Bedford.  I simply need another month or so of this kind of work to get my body back into it.  The GREAT news is that my legs feel good (or should I say better than they have in a long time)... the easy part is just working on fitness.  My mind is in it, and my legs are in it for at least 10 miles ... I struggled over the last few miles of NB and that makes sense that I would have run into some issues around 9-10 miles of ES20 this weekend.  What is needed is for me to keep pluggin' forward.  Keep up the runs, increase the mileage, start doing some workouts, and keep racing...oh yeah, and eat something before a race, especially if it's close to or equal to 20 miles!

03-24-13 - Sunday: 13.4 miles (roads) - 2 mile w/up in Portsmouth, NH at the high school.  Then Eastern States 20 Miler.  Led for just over 4 miles and then had Sam Jurek go past me (but I was still running under my goal pace so I let him go on ahead).  Then Eric Mendoza (GBTC) went passed and I kept under goal pace but started to slow a bit. I went through 10 in 56 something and just felt immediately terrible through the aid station.  I could still see 1st and 2nd but really started to feel awful.  I felt like I was borderline bonking. I took a gel but it didn't really help and I found my pace slowed to around 6 minutes.  I decided at 11 to drop and jogged very slow on the side of the road for about 4 tenths of a mile before stopping my watch.  Just wasn't feeling good at all and felt nauseated once I stopped.  I had waves of nausea but other than that just felt like I was too tired to attempt the 20.  I haven't run long at all and last week's 13.1 was a bit aggressive in itself, let alone running 12 on Saturday and then trying to grind through 20 on Sunday.  Even though the goal was just sub 2 hrs, I did want to try to keep it around 5:45-5:50 pace.  Once I fell off that just after 10 and then started to feel sick, I called it a day.  Disappointed for sure, but hopefully at least getting in a solid 10 will help me get back into shape.  I feel really bad about getting invited by the RD (because I won the race in 2010) and then having to drop, but I guess these days just happen.  My confidence was blown for about 12 hours but now that I've sulked a bit, I'm keeping my head up and trying to move forward.  I still want to go after the longer stuff, but I'm simply not in marathon shape and a 20 miler at that pace requires someone to at least be training for a the rest of the guys in the field... I am far from that... Sam Jurek ran 1:52 something, which is a great time.  Also, David Corbett from around my old neck of the woods, ran a great sub 2hrs (which was his goal, as he was telling me before the race).  That was awesome to see. I watched him finish as I was being driven back to the hotel to get my stuff (which sucked).  Steph Reilly also ran the 3rd fastest time for women ever there....and she said before the race that it was her first ever 20 miler (she had never run that long before!)... not bad, 1 week after winning New Bedford.

The race (or at least part of it):

The warmup:

03-23-13 - Saturday: 12 miles (snowmobile trails) - w/ Paul Kirsch, Leslie Beckwith, and Frank Holmes (for the first 4 miles).  From Walmart parking lot, out on the snowmobile trails heading over to East Conway (around the southern base of the Green Hills.  Nice run on a nice brisk morning.  Good to get out.  Not sure it was a great idea the day before going and running Eastern States, but I need to get this is all part of it.  There is still a TON of's not going away any time soon. It looks like the middle of winter out there...

03-22-13 - Friday: 4.3 miles (roads) - w/ Kevin Tilton.  Kevin wasn't feeling too great and I was kind of looking for an easy day, so we just meandered around a dead end neighborhood (one of only a few) from my house.

03-21-13 - Thursday: 8.7 miles (roads) - w/ Kevin Tilton.  From Kevin's palatial estate in CENTER Conway.  Up Stark Rd. to Eaton Rd. and did a nice loop back.  Rock and rolled a bit on the way back. Felt good to open it up a little bit.

03-20-13 - Wednesday: 8.6 miles (dirt roads/snowmobile trails) - w/ Kevin Tilton from Chocorua Lake Rd.  Looped out on dirt/icy/snowy roads but managed to roll along pretty good. Made a mistake of hopping onto ungroomed, horrendously slow and sloppy snowmobile trails midway through.  Cut across back to the road.  It was really tough going through that section.

03-19-13 - Tuesday: 7 miles (trails, snow covered roads, snowmobile trails) - w/ Kevin Tilton from my house in Madison, out the back yard and up to the Cascades on virgin single track (first mile was like almost 14 minutes).  This one hurt.  Punched through to Mooney Hill, ran up to Pound Rd. and down on the road (but with Dions on....the road was good enough to run on w/ snowshoes) to the SOS clubhouse. Hopped on the snowmobile trails there and did a nice out loop towards Paul's house, then backtracked and cut down to E.Madison Rd.  Then 1 mile back to my house on the roads (taking off the snowshoes for that last section).  This one was a slog!

03-18-13 - Monday: 8.3 miles (snowmobile trails/nordic ski trails) - w/ Kevin Tilton from King Pine in Madison. Out to Freedom town forest and around a bunch of snowmobile and xc ski trails.  Trails icy but in good shape. Ran w/ the microspikes on.  Legs felt a little heavy from New Bedford, which I suppose is normal.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Crossan Cup Competition for 2013 (Men)

Gary Crossan in 1986
An early preliminary list of the Mt. Washington Road Race entrants are up and it made me start thinking about the local competition for the top NH Male runner at the race this year.  A little tracked statistic from the race, but one that is near and dear to my heart specifically because it's the only one I have any sort of outside shot of actually appearing in.

Each year since 1987, the top NH male and female runner in the race win the 'Crossan Cup', named after 4-time race winner Gary Crossan, who was tragically hit and killed by a train while on a run.  Gary was a former record holder (1:01:13) and last won the race in 1986.

This year, there are some good runners signed up.   One of the top ones that has to stand out is Kevin Johnson from the Western Mass Distance Project, who is fresh off of two USATF-New England Grand Prix wins in a row, including this past weekend's New Bedford Half Marathon, where he split 10 miles in 49:53 and went on to win in 1:06:04.  Aside from Kevin, there's another Kevin in the field (Kevin Tilton) who already has 4 cups of his own and has a 1:03 PR to his credit (which he will attempt to better this year).  Tilton is a two-time US Mountain Team Member who has a ton of mountain running experience and also lives in the shadow of Mt. Washington in Conway, NH.  He has the home court (or home hill I should say) advantage.

Some other newcomers to the field include Peter Najem of the BAA and Swanzey, NH and Greg Hammett of CMS and Chesterfield, NH.  Both have lived and trained in and around Keene, NH area.  Pete has been a road and track specialist but had a very good XC career at Keene State.  Greg does everything from snowshoe racing to mountain/trail, road, and track.  The only thing Greg hasn't dipped his toes into so far seems to be tower racing, but I'm not completely counting him out of that just yet.

The Freeman brothers are back and they are always in the hunt, as both of them have already won a cup a piece.  Other players in the field include Andy McCarron of CMS and Keene, NH who is returning to form after some injuries over the last year... Brandon Newbould of Whirlaway and Nottingham, NH who has been flirting with being the top NH runner anywhere, period.  He's a beast on the roads and trails...and coming originally from Alaska, I don't count him out for the hill this June....Patrick Ard (also linked to Keene State) has a sub 1:10 under his belt but didn't have a particularly good race but he's looking for redemption this year.  He weighs somewhere between 50 and 75 lbs, so he should be able to just float up the hill utilizing some of the thermals and light winds to propel him up without much effort, should he be healthy.  I will reluctantly add myself to this list as I have been runner-up for the cup here before, so I can't completely say I have no chance, but will not bet on beating either one of the Kevin's...  Lastly, not to count out the EIGHT time winner Craig Fram here..he will be 54 this summer, but he won the cup ONLY 4 years ago at the age of 50 with a 1:06:58!  ONLY 2 years ago he ran yeah, he has a shot for sure...

There are some other good runners on the registration list and there may be a few more added...If you think I've forgotten or left out some contenders, please comment below.

Here are the top competitors (so far) from NH (in no particular order):

First Last City/State Best Time Last Performance Cups
Kevin Tilton North Conway, NH 1:03:42 (2005) 1:05:54 (2012) 4 ('05-'07, '12)
Kevin Johnson West Lebanon, NH Debut Debut 0
Justin Freeman New Hampton, NH 1:06:28 (2011) 1:08:00 (2012) 1 (2011)
Kris  Freeman Thornton, NH 1:07:46 (2011) 1:07:46 (2011) 1 (2010)
Peter Najem Swanzey, NH Debut Debut 0
Greg Hammett Chesterfield, NH Debut Debut 0
Andy McCarron Keene, NH 1:10:17 (2009) 1:11:14 (2011) 0
Brandon Newbould Nottingham, NH 1:08:07 1:08:07 (2012) 0
Jim Johnson Madison, NH 1:07:22 (2011) 1:07:55 (2012) 0
Craig Fram* Derry, NH 1:03:20 (1995) 1:08:50 (2011) 8 ('95-'97, '01-'03, '08-'09)
Pat Ard Raymond, NH 1:09:58 (2011) 1:21:48 (2012) 0

* Craig will be 54 this year!

Most Cups Won (Multiple Winners):

Craig Fram: 8
Dave Dunham: 5
Kevin Tilton: 4
Mike Casner: 3

Longest Stretch Between First and Last Cup Wins:

1] : Craig Fram: 1995 - 2009 (14 Years)
2] : Mike Casner: 1987 - 2000 (13 Years)
3] : Kevin Tilton: 2005 - 2012 (7 Years) *
4] : Dave Dunham: 1990 - 1994 (4 Years)

* If Kevin wins the cup in 2019 (He'll ONLY be 37 years old then) he will tie Craig (unless Craig wins again)...

Crossan Cup Winners since 1987 (first year):

Year Winner Time Overall Place Age Town
2012 Kevin Tilton (4) 1:05:54 18 30 Conway, NH
2011 Justin Freeman 1:06:28 8 34 New Hampton, NH
2010 Kris Freeman 1:07:56 15 29 Thornton, NH
2009 Craig Fram (8) 1:06:58 11 50 Plaistow, NH
2008 Craig Fram (7)  1:05:45 10 49 Plaistow, NH
2007 Kevin Tilton (3) 1:09:34 10 25 Conway, NH
2006 Kevin Tilton (2) 1:12:09 22 24 Conway, NH
2005 Kevin Tilton (1) 1:03:42 5 23 Conway, NH
2004 Joshua Ferenc  1:06:21 7 22 Westmoreland, NH
2003 Craig Fram (6) 1:03:27 2 44 Plaistow, NH
2002 Craig Fram (5) 28:28 (Halfway) 3 43 Plaistow, NH
2001 Craig Fram (4) 1:04:29 3 42 Plaistow, NH
2000 Mike Casner (3) 1:09:30 6 38 Keene, NH
1999 Thomas Anderson 1:04:36 8 34 Keene, NH
1998 Mike Casner (2) 1:05:48 7 36 Keene, NH
1997 Craig Fram (3) 1:04:48 1 38 Plaistow, NH
1996 Craig Fram (2) 1:04:22 4 37 Plaistow, NH
1995 Craig Fram (1) 1:03:20 2 36 Hampstead, NH
1994 Dave Dunham (5)  1:03:22 1 30 Londonderry, NH
1993 Dave Dunham (4) 1:00:44 2 29 Londonderry, NH
1992 Dave Dunham (3) 1:03:18 3 28 Londonderry, NH
1991 Dave Dunham (2) 1:02:07 2 27 Londonderry, NH
1990 Dave Dunham (1) 1:01:37 2 26 Londonderry, NH
1989 Jeffrey Robie 1:10:45 8 32 Kingston, NH
1988 Martin Kryska 1:06:11 4 23 Hanover, NH
1987 Mike Casner (1) 1:06:10 5 25 Bristol, NH

In 2012, 2010, 2008, 2006, and 2004 Mount Washington served as the US National Mountain Running Championships.

Other fun facts about the Crossan Cup:

Only 2 times has the Crossan Cup been awarded to the Overall Race Winner.  Dave Dunham's last  win came in 1994 when he lived in Londonderry, NH.  The one other was Craig Fram's victory in 1997 (Plaistow, NH).

In 2010 and 2011, the Cup was won by brothers, Kris Freeman and Justin Freeman (both US Olympic Nordic Skiers).

The fastest time a Crossan Cup winner has run (to win the cup) is: 1:00:44 by Dave Dunham (1993)

The slowest time a Crossan Cup winner has run (to win the cup) is: 1:12:09 by Kevin Tilton (2006)

The worst place (overall) that a Cross Cup winner has run (to win the cup) is: 22nd by Kevin Tilton (2006)

The oldest Crossan Cup Winner is Craig Fram at 50 Years of Age in 2009.

The youngest Crossan Cup Winner is Josh Ferenc at 22 Years of Age in 2004.

Towns in which the winners have hailed from:

Plaistow: 7
Londonderry: 5
Conway: 4
Keene: 3

Craig Fram

Kevin Tilton heading up the last climb to the finish - 2009

Kevin Tilton's 4 Crossan Cups

2004 - Josh Ferenc finishing in style.
2004 - Josh Ferenc finishing in style.
2004 - Josh Ferenc finishing in style.
2004 - The infamous Ferenc w/ his hardware

Dave Dunham finishing quietly in 1988 (he lived in Lowell at the time, but it's a good picture)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Training Week: 3-11 - 3-17

Weekly Wrap Up:  52.8 miles on 5 days (yes two rest days as my legs are a horrorshow). 1 very good kickstart race (my 2nd worse NB ever but it's a step in the right direction...nothing but positives from this race).  I started some wheels in motion for some improvement on the leg situation (more on that later) and my training starts NOW.  My serious training.  Not 200 mile per week training, but regular normal serious training like the old days.  Back to basics.  No more 40-50 miles per week, winter type stuff.  This is springtime now (regardless of the foot of snow we are going to get over the next 36 hours).  Time to get organized.  Good times today at NB though...good catching up w/ some good guys and seeing the usual suspects out there all doing what we all love to do...

03-17-13 - Sunday: 19.6 miles (roads) - 5 mile w/ up w/ BAA crew (Ian Nurse, Dave Bedoya, Ryan McCalmon and a couple others.  Forgot to start my watch until about a half mile in.  Warmup was too long by my standards (5 miles) and it was fast (7:08 pace with us JOGGING the last quarter mile to the cars)... + Race: New Bedford Half Marathon - 1:13:08 (5:35 pace).  Ran within myself and didn't get hurt.  Big plus.  Race report to come. + cooldown (barely) w/ Goup, KG, and Boss Hammett.  1.5 miles of slow painful death on the beautiful side streets of New Bedford's equivalent of Lowell's 'Acre' neighborhood.

The cooldown...

The race...

The warmup...

03-16-13 - Saturday: Off - See below... I did do some 'legwork' on some things that will make me better.  Spent the day doing some shopping and talking w/ folks about what I need to be doing.  Productive day, related to body work...but no running except a couple of jogs across parking lots.

03-15-13 - Friday: Off - Legs completely trashed from yesterday's run.  Feels like I have a horrendous shinsplit.  Figure I can't possibly get any more quality work in before NB.  So a couple days here won't matter.

03-14-13 - Thursday: 11.8 miles (dirt roads/paved roads) 
- With KT (yes, KT is back at it) from East Madison (King Pine).  We did the 'Madison to Maine n' Back' run.  Up Horseleg Hill Rd / Towle Hill Rd/ Cold Brook Rd / Rice Hill Rd to the Maine border.  Since just about every road has a 'hill' in the title, you can imagine how hilly this run is. 1800+ ft. of elevation gain.  We took it 'easy' and still banged 7:37 pace (because of some of the downs) for the whole run. I bet in the summer we can hit under 7s for a tempo effort on this.  But seriously this run is pretty legit.  The effort was easy on the legs but still a decent beating on the lungs. Wind was bad on the way back and it got COLD. Towns run: Madison, Eaton, Freedom, Porter.  Climbing back up the ladder of 'fitness' but still need to figure out why my legs feel like they are turning to stone slowly...

03-13-13 - Wednesday: 5.3 miles (roads, snowmobile trails, single track) - This run was a mess.  Headed out solo from my house, down E. Madison Rd. to the snowmobile trails and headed over to 113. The trails closed on Monday for good.  The snow is too rotten and too many bare spots.  I fell FIVE times on my face.  Punching through rotten snow and through voids with streams running underneath. It was dangerous as hell.  I eventually came out onto 113 and went up behind the town hall to check out the small Ward Parcel trails. NO ONE has been in there all winter except maybe 1 guy and his dog.  The snow was horrendous.  Wet and dangerous.  I was all over the place in there.  Just a wash of a day.  But I wanted to just take it easy and recover so wandering around near my house and hitting some very slow trails was about right.

03-12-13 - Tuesday: 11.5 miles (dirt/icy roads/deep snow/paved roads/mud) - solo.  Tamworth, NH.  From Chocorua Lake Rd. parking lot off 16. Did the 'C-Lake Bang' in pouring rain.  Dirt road was ok for a bit, then it got icy through the section that isn't maintained in the winter.  I slipped a couple times and almost went down.  Rocked on the rest of the dirt road sections but it was very muddy and soft.  The 6th mile was completely snowed in. Not even snowmobile tracks to run on.  It was between ankle and knee deep and very wet.  After that mile I was able to roll again.  One solid road mile late and back onto sloppy icy dirt roads near the Brass Heart Inn.  Felt good.  Really crummy day out but needed to get out and get a solid road run in to get some sort of idea what to expect on Sunday.  I just don't want to completely be surprised when I step on the line at New Bedford.  I have an idea know that I can get through the distance...just probably not very fast... I was pleased with the effort today though, considering the elevation gain and conditions of the roads and weather (and a near 8 minute mile through deep snow)...still averaged a good clip.  On a flatter, paved course I would have been rollin' pretty good.  Progress is being made.  Maybe by June I'll be in shape.

03-11-13 - Monday: 4.6 miles (snowshoe) - with Kevin.  From Diana's Baths (Conway/Bartlett).  The plan was to head up North Moat and do a 10+ loop with some killer elevation.  That was scrapped before we even headed out after I locked my keys in my car immediately after getting there.  Then we just decided to go anyways and deal with the car after.  But we decided that since Kevin would have to drive me all the way home and then back with the spare key, that we would not go for the 2 hours it would have taken.  So we just decided to snowshoe for a bit up the Moat Mtn. Trail.  We only went about 2.3 up and then turned and headed back. I think neither one of us was feeling it at that point.  Nice easy day (with 500+ feet of elevation gain mostly just in the first 2.3 miles).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Granite State Snowshoe Championship

Photo - Scott Mason
Well that's a wrap... Another Granite State Snowshoe Series done and snowshoe racing season over with for 2013.  This year I ran in all six races and ended up winning all six (somehow)... The plan was initially to just run enough to score, but funny how things turn out.  Just before the season started, Kevin and I 'ran' up Potash Mtn. and I had such a hard time on the snowshoes, I actually vowed that I wouldn't race at all this season.  I have had no good solid training or workouts or races since August when I went down with my foot issues.  By the time the season started, I was hanging on to just trying to get out the door most days to get something in.  I never thought by the end of the season, I'd be lining up with some very fast guys at the Granite State Championships (results), with cash money on the line, and holding my own.  I really did think my time was up, but fortunately I was able to capture my 5th straight Granite State Snowshoe Series Championship (2009-2013).

I convinced Kevin Tilton to go down to the race this past weekend in Allenstown, NH (a town I still needed to bag).  I had never even been in Allenstown to my knowledge, let alone to Bear Brook State Park, which I've heard a lot about.  I was excited to run a course I hadn't seen before.  That's few and far between these days with snowshoeing.  Kevin picked me up in Madison on our way down and we headed down 28 all the way to the race and arrived in plenty of time to preview some of the course.  I had a feeling there would be some stiff competition there, as race director Ryan Welts posted a $100 prize to first male and female.  Kevin continued to sandbag and tell me that he'd be 6 minutes behind me, etc. and made it sound like the money was mine...I wasn't so sure.  With no good long runs (distance-wise) and very little runs where I wasn't completely sore from head to toe lately, I wasn't very confident in my fitness or body holding up over 10K to be honest.  The last 3 races I've run, I've had my hamstring seize up on me VERY early on.  And those races were shorter than this.  I was just hoping to run with KT and whoever else may show up and try to hang on without having to DNF to be honest.

The weather was amazing and had warmed up substantially by race time.  Just before the warmup I spotted Mark Miller (BAA) from a distance and immediately knew I'd be running for 2nd or 3rd.  I've never beaten Mark except in a snowshoe race, but that race had a crazy climb that I'm convinced is the only reason I was able to hold him off (at Mt. Greylock a few years ago).  I happened to have been used to those climbs on snowshoes that season and Mark was killing all the rest of that course so I was thankful the hill was there, but today would be different as there really wasn't that much climbing and certainly no substantial 'climbing' to be had.  Kevin and I did a short loop over the first and last part of the course. I made note of the last part, which is about a mile of mostly down and switchback to the finish.  I envisioned trying to stay with either KT or Mark on this part (if I was lucky).  When we got back and quickly changed for the race, I noticed Greg Hammett as well and I immediately now thought just a podium spot (if I could hold off KT) would be the goal.  I had absolutely zero faith or notion that I'd even be seeing Greg or Mark by a quarter of the way through the race.  Before heading over to the start, Bob Dion luckily noticed that I had a couple of BROKEN ice cleats.  Yes, broken.  I didn't even know (and I was warming up on them).  Being the awesome guy that he is, he quickly switched them out for me and I was off to battle with some new cleats.

When I got down to the line, I saw Jim Pawlicki as well. I was surprised, but he was actually supposed to be at Sidehiller I think, so he was due to show at a NH race at some point.  DD was also there and is always in the hunt, as he's in probably the best snowshoe shape (and general shape) I've seen him in in the last few years.  That was a solid 6 + anyone else who may be able to muscle out a 10K.  10K is very different than the 5k - 4 Milers I'm used to in snowshoeing.  It evens out the playing field a little bit and doesn't favor the faster guys as much sometimes... but this course had one thing going for it (that was in my favor I think) and that was that it seemed like the single track was FAST.  It was well packed, but admittedly very narrow most of the way.  As long as you could stay in the single track, you were fine.  I'd say the course may have been 90% or so single track (give or take).  The only concern I had was that it ended and finished essentially on single track (the beginning more of a concern than the end).  I didn't want to get caught behind guys immediately, even if they were faster than me.

Photo - Joe Viger
I stood around and sandbagged a bit with Greg and Mark.  Mark said he wasn't in good shape at all.  Greg leaned in and contradicted that statement.  I was pretty sure that it was going to be the Greg and Mark show and almost conceded the first two spots before the race even started.  We lined up and were off.  For some reason I moved out to the front and really tried for about 5 strides to make sure I got into the single track first.  I'm not sure why, even thinking back on it.  I guess I just decided right before the gun that I needed to try to run my race.  In snowshoeing I rarely sit behind someone, especially on single track.  Even in races where I know later in the race KT will go past me, I still go out and run my race early.  I have tried to sit before and it ends up backfiring on me.  So I blazed out early and took the lead in front of Mark, where I am never supposed to be.  Greg also.  I moved out front and immediately felt like I was holding back everyone.  I glanced back a few times to make sure I wasn't in the way.  I was very surprised at the lead I had early, but then thought about it being a 10K and figured I was being foolish by going so fast so early...but it really did feel relatively easy.  I kept thinking I was going too slow and needed to keep an eye on the guys behind to make sure that when they wanted to pass, I get the hell out of the way.

The first mile was a mix of twisting and turning, up and down single track (now that I think of it, the entire thing was!)... I kept looking back as I would hit a switchback or turn where I could glance over to see the yellow BAA singlet of Mark and Greg tight on his heels. Somewhere early in the first mile, I passed Scott Mason who told me 'nice lead'.  I was shocked, but that quickly turned to 'they'll catch me soon enough'.  On and on I pushed, thinking maybe I was going too hard?... I wasn't sure.  I hit the first mile somewhere in 7:18.  I kept it going until I got to the snowmobile trail section before this big open meadow. I felt super slow on the snowmobile trails because they were softer and slower than the single track believe it or not.  I wanted off and back onto the single track in a bad way.  That first snowmobile section felt LONG.

My second mile was 6:46, which is solid for those conditions.  When I hit 2 miles I glanced back on the long straight meadow section and could see Mark and Greg back quite a ways.  I was very surprised and thought I must just be going too damn hard for a 10K.  I tried to ease back a bit, but now kept trying to do some quick math, wondering if I could hold off that much of a lead if I blew up a little.  I also had no idea what type of climbing or course conditions lay ahead.  When I got back onto the single track, my pace seemed to get easier as the snow stiffened up and made for easier racing.

The third mile seemed like a lot of single track and I could no longer see anyone behind me.  I kept pushing ahead but tried to calm down a bit and just keep running.  The thought of just trying to not run too much slower than what I thought everyone else was doing, kept running through my head.  Thinking that if I lost just a little bit per mile the rest of the way, I could still hold off maybe. I hit a couple of ups where the snow was a bit loose or soft and wet, and seized up a bit.  The whole time, thinking that I was going to get caught at some was just a matter of time.  Third mile clicked through in 7:33.

Photo - Scott Mason

The fourth mile I think consisted of a longer snowmobile section that had a nice climb to it.  It wasn't crazy long or steep, but enough to really slow you down.  I kept looking back but didn't see anyone. At the top of the snowmobile section, you dip onto some single track that has probably the steepest slope to any on the course. Talk about seizing up.  I got to the top and remember hopping over a log and almost stopping in my tracks.  I was gassed here, but luckily the conditions of the snow and the climbing got better quickly, and soon I was back on some manageable single track where I could start picking up the pace again.  I distinctly remember at 4.7 miles (on my Garmin) looking at my watch and looking back on a VERY long straight section of snowmobile trail (as I weaved back and forth across the trail looking for the most solid snow I could find)...I looked down and saw 4.7, looked back and saw no one. Looked ahead and saw a photographer standing in the trail, right before a left hand turn.  I asked him as I passed, if anyone was back.  He said no.  That was the first time all day I actually thought I could hold off for the win.  I remember smiling and thinking that I was actually going to hold off.  I figured with 1.5 miles left (IF the course was a full 10K) was no big deal because I knew most of the last mile was downhill on switchbacks, which I knew I wouldn't lose that much time on, even if I was blowing up.  Fourth mile was 7:50 with the climb and looser conditions...still solid.

Photo - Joe Viger

I hit the last junction with the switchbacks and knew I had the race won. I didn't kill that last section, but did keep looking over and up the trail on the turns, to see if anyone was making a last section charge.  I passed by Scott Mason and Joe Viger who were both there taking pictures in their own private photog-war... I zig-zagged all the way down to the finish and popped out on the last short trail section (which was so beat up and loose that I was glad I wasn't racing anyone there).  Fifth mile was 7:05 and my last almost full mile was 7:25. My Garmin was a bit short on the course, clocking in at 5.92 miles.

Photo - Joe Viger
I couldn't believe I had held off the charge of that field.  Now I stood back and waited to see how big or small the gap was.  To my surprise, it was a few minutes before Kevin popped out of the woods. I was shocked to be honest.  I think Kevin is the best snowshoer in the field, but early on in the race, when I was seeing Greg and Mark behind me, I had noticed Kevin back a ways, very early on, and thought he was done.  He had been talking about how he hadn't been feeling that great in the days leading up to the race, and he had been sick. I had counted him out of top 3.  He finished up in 2nd place with Jim Pawlicki coming out of the woods only about 5 seconds back, with Greg on his heels. I was amazed to see how well JP had run against that field and he popped out just a stride ahead of Greg, but held his own to the finish with Greg moving out along side him as they both dove for the finish.  It was closer than the 1 second the results showed, with it almost looking like a tie from behind, where I was standing.  A very exciting finish for sure.   DD came next and then Mark popped out of the woods a little bit later on and finished out the top 6.  I knew that Mark's race was not indicative of how fit he is right now because it just was an off day for him.  He's the best runner by far in the field, but I think the difference (without knowing exactly the extent of his training, which consists of a lot of different activities as he is a triathlete), is that I have spent A LOT of time on snow this winter. I have been spending a lot of time on snowshoes and/or running up and down mountains in snow with spikes or the mudclaws.  So I was very used to the conditions and additional effort of having to slog through a course like that.  I think if I spent all this winter on the roads or just trails (or even just snowmobile trails) I wouldn't have done as well.  Time in snowshoes just cannot be matched sometimes.  I remember Kelley Mortenson telling me at Nationals a few years ago (after I asked him how the hell all the guys who killed me there run so damn fast in those conditions) that he runs many many hours a week on snowshoes during the season. That hit home.  It's basically what it takes I think, to be able to run courses like this.  I guarantee you that my fitness is NOT better than Gregs or Daves or Marks.  That will be apparent this weekend when you see what I do at New Bedford.  But on snowshoes, I can hold my own just because of the slogs I've been doing up here this winter, all winter.

Photo - Scott Mason

Top 10 Overall (BAA in Yellow):

1Jim Johnson35Madison NHBAA                           43:226:59
2Kevin Tilton31North Conway NHCentral Mass Striders/INOV8   46:247:28
3James Pawlicki38Lynn MACentral Mass Striders         46:297:29
4Greg Hammett35Chesterfield NHCentral Mass Striders         46:307:29
5Dave Dunham48Bradford MACentral Mass Striders         47:277:39
6Mark Miller32Parts Unknown NHBAA                           48:227:47
7Danny Ferreira30Concord NHacidotic RACING               49:357:59
8Anthony Parillo28Sherborn MA                              51:118:15
9Phil Erwin45Ridge NYacidotic RACING               51:178:16
10Chris Dunn44Strafford NHacidotic RACING               51:258:17

90 Total Finishers.

I cooled down on a park road that actually crossed over into Deerfield (although I already had Deerfield bagged) and back, with JP, KT, and DD.  I bonked on the way back and settled for some soup to bring me back to life before the awards and raffle.

For the effort, I got $100 of dirty cash out of Ryan's shirt pocket. I also got a bag of cookie and brownie crumbs in the raffle, and a sweet trophy for the overall win in the series.

Joe Viger photo set HERE
Scott Mason photo set HERE

Monday, March 4, 2013

Training Week: 3-04 - 3-10

Wrap Up: 44 Miles for the week on 6 days.  Not stellar, but I did have 1 very good race against one of the best fields I've ever personally seen in a snowshoe race (other than Nationals and maybe Sidehiller a few years ago).  I got 4600 feet of climbing in this week on 44 miles, so that's not too shabby either.  I hope to keep up that type of number going forward... I will not START my focus on trying to cut shapes for some road stuff... Bad timing w/ New Bedford coming this weekend as I have zero long runs and not much in the way of 'speed work' for roads, but I'll try to get a good workout in and see what happens.  Maybe I can run w/ Greg, MQ, and a few others for a few miles before dying off and dropping 7s... we'll see.

03-10-13 - Sunday- Off. Family and friends came to visit and had to get an early start on things around the house.  Took a rest day to recover from a few days of leg torture including yesterday's race.  Resetting a little bit in anticipation for starting some road focus now (until the trails clear out).  Legs were beat.  Could have probably done a shakeout after everyone left, but I had 2 beers with Sully and my sister during the afternoon and by 6:00pm I was ready for bed (yes, that is what it has come to)...

03-09-13 - Saturday- 11 miles (snowshoe/race/roads). Warmup on snowshoes over part of the Granite State Snowshoe Championship course w/ KT.  1.7 mile loop that allowed us to preview the start and finish.  All single track.  + Race: Granite State Snowshoe Championship (results) - 10K - 1st OA (43:22) + Cooldown over roads in the park w/ KT, Jim Pawlicki, and Dave Dunham.

(The cooldown - roads)

(The race - snowshoe)

(The warmup - snowshoe)

03-08-13 - Friday - 5.7 miles (snowmobile trails). w/ KT from Walmart in NoCo.  Modified 'Staples' loop but shorter, starting from Walmart and not hitting the hills behind Kennett (and also not going to the west of Rt. 16). Nice and easy on some sloppy and slow snowmobile trails.  Easy does it before the 10K on Saturday.

03-07-13 - Thursday - 6.2 miles (mountain/snow).  w/ KT from the Kearsarge Trail trailhead off Hurricane Mountain Road.  Conway/Bartlett/Chatham.  Up Kearsarge.  Held my own on the way up, although we weren't killing it and Kevin was taking it easy on me.  Up in 44:03.  Down in 21:26.  Headlamp cruise on the way down. DEEP snow at the top. Comical really. Kevin and I would break through and lose a leg completely up to our bathing suit area and have to finagle our way out and crawl to safety.  The rest of the trail under tree cover was good and packed for the most part. The last half mile or so wasn't trekked through since before it snowed last, so we were breaking trail.  Got down the bottom and bonked. Pretty strange feeling bonking on the downhill in the dark.  My hands were killing me.  Felt good to get up a mountain. I cannot wait for the 'C-bangs' once daylight savings kicks in and the weather gets better.  2500+ feet of elevation in 10K (Garmin gets it a bit short as the trail up and down is 5k).

03-06-13 - Wednesday - 8.1 miles (roads, dirt/snow roads).  w/ KT from his palatial estate in Center Conway.  Roads leading up to Cove Campground on Conway Lake (dirt/snow covered road once we went into Eaton).  We ran shorter than intended because I was late getting over to Kevin's... On the way over I decided to take a desolate, dangerous way over to his place from mine (which essentially cuts up and over some unmaintained roads, over some steep terrain in west Madison/Eaton).  I came across a kid who had slid off the road in his SUV and was hung up in a huge snowbank.  I towed him out w/ my Xterra and some climbing rope.  Had I not been by there at that exact time (missed him going off the road by less than a minute) he would have been there for a long time... it was in the middle of cell one came through there the entire time we were pulling him out.

03-05-13 - Tuesday - 5 miles (roads).  Ridiculously slow and easy jog w/ KT, Roger, and Justin from Whitaker Woods immediately following my massage in NoCo.  Legs a bit stiff and sore so a light shakeout in the shadow of Cranmore was just what I needed.  Added on a small bit after to get 5 as we did the shorter 4 loop.

03-04-13 - Monday - 8 miles (snowmobile trails).  Staples Loop w/ KT.  Clockwise.  Wore the Muclaw 265s again.  Sloppy, slip sliding around on loose wet snow most of the way.  Constantly searching for packed track as we scampered along.  Solid 'easy' day.  Any day you slog through 8 miles of snowmobile trails w/ trail shoes in the winter at night with headlamps, is better than a zero.  After this coming weekend though, the headlamp may be put away...

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Training Week: 2-26 - 3-03

Wrap Up: 54.7 miles w/ 1 day off and one race (snowshoe). Good week considering the weather. Got out a few nights w/ KT and had one solo old-school-type-effort on the slippery roads w/ a winter lake bang.  Not too much else to write home about.  Hope to have as much of these runs on Strava as possible (when I don't botch my start/stopping of the watch like I did on Friday night)... March is here... 1 week until daylight savings!!!  Then let the weekly Chocorua-bangs (aka 'C-bangs' begin :)...

3-03-13 - Sunday: 10.7 miles (snow/roads).  2 miles w/up on the roads of Pownal, ME then 1 mile on snowshoes over the start/finish of the course.  Then race: Bradbury Blizzard (5 Mile) - 4.7 on my GPS. - 1st OA - 38:31 (results).  Then 3 mile cooldown on the roads.  Bonked HARD on the way back. Been a while since that happened...

(The cooldown)

(The race)

(The warmup on snowshoes)

(The warmup on roads)

3-02-13 - Saturday: 0 miles.  Didn't leave the house except to get the mail. Watched my daughter all day as Kristin was down in Foxboro, MA for a baby shower early, and she didn't return until late... This was the first day I got to spend alone w/ Tabitha.  Being a dad is the best.  Or should I say, having kids is the best... I got to keep her company and occupy her the whole day, change diapers, make funny faces and strange noises, feed her constantly, and stare at her while she slept (a lot).  Would I have rather been out running?  Absolutely not.  Wouldn't change a thing.  If you don't have kids, I recommend getting some! :)

3-01-13 - Friday: 8.2 miles (snowmobile trails, roads). With KT from Walmart in NoCo.  Corridor 19 snowmobile trail out and back + wandering around Settler's Green and back on the roads to add miles.  Had to use Kevin's watch data for this one as I forgot to apparently start my watch for about a half mile during the wandering over to Settler's Green.

2-28-13 - Thursday: 8.1 miles (snowmobile trails, roads). With KT from Kennett Middle School in Conway. On the tracks (snowmobile trail) and headed north.  In towards the Mineral Site but had to turn back early w/ some tightness in the hammy...playing it safe. Got back to the school and did an extra mile, wandering around the back parking area and playground to get 8 miles.  Slow going on the trails w/ the loose wet snow.  Faster on West Side Rd. as we came back.

2-27-13 - Wednesday: 6.1 miles (trails, roads, snowmobile trails). Solo. My house, out my front door and up to the Cascades trail.  Knee deep snow for over a mile.  Unreal how much snow is in the woods.  Basically a deep snow slog.  No one had been up there since I was there probably 2 weeks ago.  Everything was filled in.  Along the logging road it was 'assh*le deep to a 10 foot Indian' in there.   I was in a tire track rut and the snow was up to my waist almost in spots.  Finally out to Mooney Hill and down to 113 (slippery and whiteout conditions).  Road covered with snow as it has been snowing all day and seemingly it has picked up in intensity.  Down 113 to snowmobile trails at the gas station and in and over out to E.Madison Rd. all on snowmobile trails. Trails in good condition.  Nice and packed with only a couple inches of power on top (so the groomers were probably in there today already).  Finally out to E.Madison road and back to my house.  Really slow on the roads as they are covered with snow.  Glad to just get out with the conditions...

2-26-13 - Tuesday: 10.6 miles (roads).  Solo. The streak running w/ KT ended (I could have gone to Whitaker Woods tonight but opted to get a solid lake bang in instead).  The extended 'Winter Lake Bang' without the cut through in front of my house (as it is all snowed in).  Lead Mine Rd. (dirt) was brutal.  From E. Madison to Black Brook it was icy but manageable.  Not plowed past Black Brook Rd. but packed down decent by snowmobiles.  Slip sliding all over the place during those 2 miles and the last 200 meters or so of the road before E.Shore was 2 feet of snow with zero snowmobile track to run on, but I was only crunching through about 6 inches or so. Still very slow.  Once back on the pavement, I opened it up and ran strong and steady. 580 ft. of elevation gain on the Lake Bang which is about the flattest run you can get around here (from my house) while going 10+ miles.  Had to stop 3 times to tie my shoe, hence the 41 second drift in time.

2-25-13 - Monday: 10.7 miles (roads) w/ KT on the roads of Madison and Albany.  Nice and easy 'High Street Loop'.  Snowy dirt road for a few miles.  Headlamp run.  8th straight day running w/ KT. May be an all time record.  803 ft of elevation gain.