Sunday, February 23, 2014

February 23 (Sunday)

February 23 (Sunday) - 17 miles total in 2 runs.   10 miles in the AM with Paul Kirsch and Kyla Brustin.  We did the 'Staples' loop but started at Meeting House Hill Rd. in Conway and hit the snowmobile trails (clockwise).  We all wore Microspikes.  The snow was soft but manageable.  I did 8 with Paul and Kyla and then added on 2 more (out and back) on the Rec trail.  Nice temps and beautiful day out.  Legs felt ok but still really tight.  [1:30:21 total]. Played Dad for the rest of the day...  Then did 7 miles in the PM (headlamp run) from Kevin's house in Conway.  We did an out and back on Stark Rd.  Calves were a bit tight and twinging on the way back. [52:43].  A good 2 hours 20+ minutes of running in today on bad legs.  Not too bad.  Nice and easy miles for a while (and lots of stretching) until I start to loosen up. I think the treadmill miles really took it's toll. Ended the week with 50.4 miles on 5 days running with 2 days off and no racing (which was a smart move in the end).  I had 6 runs though.  Not an awful week numbers-wise but awful in the sense that I got beat up out of nowhere.  Resting up now for a fun weekend next weekend in VT at Snowshoe Nationals.  I hope by then I have everything straightened out so I can get through the tough 10K course Tivo has setup.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

February 22 (Saturday)

February 22 (Saturday) - Another rest day for the foot and calf(s).  Legs just really tight and sore.  So is my lower back... so I decided to take on more day and stretch and stick the legs from top to bottom (and continue to do this going forward).   From what I can see, I'm glad I gave Exeter a pass (even though I hate missing GSSS races).  The conditions probably would have made my legs worse.   My sister and her family ended up coming over and spending the day.  Then we were out for a nice dinner in town with all the kids.  Good times.  26 days until Spring...

Tabby blogging w/ her dad...

Friday, February 21, 2014

February 21 (Friday)

February 21 (Friday) - Rest day to try to give the calf and foot some time to heal up.  Deciding to bag this weekend's racing as to not make things any worse.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

February 20 (Thursday)

February 20 (Thursday) - Got out earlier in the afternoon for a spin in relatively mild weather w/ Doc Darin Brown.  7.4 miles (High St. loop from train station).  The plan was to run the loop w/ Darin from the Silver Lake train station and then run the 1.75 or so home from there after.  The roads were ok, with only the upper Tamworth sections pretty snowy (and on the way back on N.Division rd).  My foot's been wonky the past couple days and today I was really favoring it.  Around 5 miles my right calf went on me again and I had to stop to stretch.  I am just super tight and am trying to run on twisted muscles at this point. I have to get some work done and do some extensive stretching before testing this out in a longer road effort.  I ended up only getting through the 7.4 and called it before I got hurt.  I could have probably run slow back to the house but didn't want to test it.  I'm not going to test anything at DH Jones this weekend and most likely not at the SS race either.  I can't see myself getting through 10 miles on the roads with my legs like this. A short SS race may be a possibility but I doubt it.  I may just try to run easy this weekend and try to get loose or it's going to be a missed SS Nationals next weekend if I can't get this behind me.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

February 19 (Wednesday)

February 19 (Wednesday) - Worked late.  Didn't get to leave the house until 7pm.  My desire to run was pretty minimal at best.  It was (believe it or not) snowing again and had been for most of the day.  I headed over to The Mill for 10 miles (70:36). The cardio is really coming along but my legs are trashed. I am just really tight and stiff.  I think sitting for a good part of the day is to blame...I may have to stand a bit more and move around more during the day when I'm on calls, etc.  I also think the treadmill running is starting to beat me up.  It felt really good running on the road last night.  I cannot wait until all this white crap is gone.  Enough already.  Snowshoe running blah blah blah, cross country skiing blah blah blah, downhill skiing blah blah blah, snowmobiling blah blah blah, tubing/sledding blah blah blah STOP IT.  Enough is enough.  Next winter I'm going to rent the house out and spend time down south...I don't know how the older folks (like Leslie) do it.  I'm still 'young' and I can't handle it anymore.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18 (Tuesday)

February 18 (Tuesday) - The weather nightmare continues here.  I tried to get out without shoveling and got my whip all hung up in the deep snowbank at the end of my driveway.  I was stuck for 45 minutes while it snowed furiously on me.  I tried to dig out, throw sand down, chip away ice under the tires, insert wooden planks under the wheels, etc. Nothing was working.  It took me 45 min to finally get it out and back up to where I could get out into the street.  Once out, I realized the road was in no better shape than my driveway was.  I shot up only about a half mile and then turned around and bailed on trying to go up and over E.Madison Rd. and down to The Mill.  I ended up throwing my Orocs and headlamp on, and hoofing it on the unplowed streets of E. Madison and Silver Lake for an hour.  I ran in some deep stuff and some semi-plowed streets up around the Pine Hill neighborhoods.  Just over 6 miles in 47 minutes, in the dark, in the driving snow, and with about 10 feet of visibility.  Not bad.  Better than a zero.  I also ran up and down some hills, which was a nice change of pace.  It's been quite some time since I last ran any sort of grade during the week.

Monday, February 17, 2014

February 17 (Monday)

February 17 (Monday) - Had the day off from work but still managed to not go outside due to the frigid temps, overabundance of snow, and laziness.  I spent the day watching Tabby walk all around the house, pick things up, throw them down, and just be a typical 14 month old... we watched some Olympics on the tube, about 16 episodes of Spongebob, and then we played the never ending game of 'let me drink a bottle of milk, poop myself, and then you change me'.  She loves that one.  Somewhere around 6pm I decided to head over to The Mill for the usual 10 miles on the mill.  75 minutes.  Nice and easy.  Watching the calf to make sure it doesn't blow up on me. It actually was fine.  The legs felt a little beat but not terrible.  I did some lifting and stretching after.  It is school vacation week up here so King Pine and Purity Spring are a nightmare.  There was probably about 7000 kids in the pool all at once so I didn't even bother to try to get some laps in.  It would have felt good, but I think it will be a week before I can get near that pool again.

February 16 (Sunday)

February 16 (Sunday)

Weekly Recap:
Days Running: 6
Total Runs: 9
 - Treadmill: 5
 - Snowshoe: 1
 - Trail/Snow: 1
 - Road: 2
Total Races: 1
Total Miles: 60

Reluctant to get out (because of the calf) despite the amazing day outside, I finally (eventually) hit the mill for an easy 6 miles in 45 min to cap off the week.  The calf was a non issue at 7:30 pace on the mill.  60 miles on 6 days is good enough for me right now.  Had to take the unfortunate day after my calf tweaked so I need to watch that so I can get through another week before going to DH Jones.  I'm not expecting much but it will nice to get another road race under my belt and get back into GP action (despite the fact I am not really a fan of most of the GP races this year ...just a personal preference).  I wouldn't normally even think about going to run that race if it wasn't the 10 mile championship every once in a while.  But just in case CMS needs a guy in a pinch, I may be able to offer something if everything falls into place.  They may not even need me though (which I am hoping is the case).  I do have Exeter the day before Jones.  I'm thinking of bailing on that to save what I do have, for the 10 miler.  We'll see how this week plays out.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 15 (Saturday) - Kingman Farm Snowshoe Race

February 15 (Saturday) - 15 miles total.    6 miles in the a.m. from the East Madison, NH field office of the USATF Mountain Team (Paul Kirsch's house).  Ran w/ Paul, Sarah Hernandez, and Leslie Beckwith.  Easy jaunt to test out the calf on the snowmobile trails before the race in Madbury later in the day. Got a workout in, trying to push Leslie's useless-as-sh*t-in-the-snow car out of Paul's driveway (which was plowed, yet her car still wouldn't move).

Then headed down later on (in the beginnings of snowstorm) to the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race in Madbury, NH.  The roads were super slick by the time I got off 16 in Dover.  Met up with Steve Dowsett at the town hall in Madbury for a  2.5 mile warmup on the dark, snowy roads.  Two miles on the roads and then got back and threw on the snowshoes for another half mile of warming up before the start.  I knew it was going to be a good race with a surging Bob Jackman, Steve, Jim Pawlicki, and Nacho Hernando in attendance.  I was just hoping my calf stayed with me during this one.  The last time I had pushed off with any sort of power was on Thursday and it was right when the massive cramp bit me at the end of that run.  That was still very fresh in my mind.  The course was lengthened by almost a mile and a half (to 4.5 miles exactly) this year and the conditions were great.  Lots of snow and a good mix of single track and trampled down double track + the same climbing and single track switchbacks that have been part of this race in the past.  The field section in the middle was far longer and probably the highlight of the race.  Couple all that with the usual excitement and uniqueness of racing in the woods in the pitch dark (and in a snowstorm) and it was really building up to be an awesome event.

Photo of me leading the start of the race - courtesy of Scott Mason

Chris Dunn gave the word and we were off with yours truly in the front again for the early stages.  It didn't take long (about 2 minutes) for my calf to twinge at almost the same intensity I had on Thursday.  If it wasn't a race, I would have stopped dead in my tracks and that would have been it.  But I pushed on and it came back every minute or so.  I actually found myself yelling out load a couple times right before the first mile when it would pop on me and it was really intense. Nacho actually asked me if I was ok when he heard me yell the last time.  He was right on my heels.   It made me have to back down a bit and all I became focused on was my calf and having to possibly drop out.  Right after the first mile of twisty, turning (and SNOWY) single track, Nacho moved on around me in the same type of signature definitive move I am becoming accustomed to (unfortunately).  He moved on ahead and pushed on up and down through some awesome narrow single track in the woods.  There was a ton of snow pushing the pine branches down onto the track, making you have to constantly duck underneath and brush up against some, getting you soaked each time.  One of the times my headlamp almost came off and pushed up way high on my head.  I immediately couldn't see and got nervous for a second that it had come open and I would lose the batteries.  After fiddling with the strap and adjusting myself quickly, I pushed on, trying to keep Nacho in sight the whole time.  The race is so cool because no matter how far ahead or back people are, it is so dark in the woods with absolutely zero external light from any other source, that you can see the other racer's headlamp light a lot of the way.  Before dumping out onto the field, I started to notice that we had enough distance up on the rest of the pack, that I could no longer see headlamps behind me.  I think last year, I never lost sight of Bob's light.  This year, I think we were running pretty well as we lost the pack quite early.

As we hit the field section, I would seem to catch back up to Nacho just a little and make some good progress.  But then as quick as I thought he might be tiring and I might catch up, I would seemingly fall back again.  After about 7 or 8 minutes of no calf issues, I got whacked again with a massive cramp during the middle of the field.  It was all I was really thinking about at that point.  Just trying to finish now.  The field is great because you can look across after all the meandering back and forth in the single track that had been blazed already, and see the other racers lights all in a row.  You couldn't make out much of anything else. It really is something very unique in racing (especially in snowshoe racing).  By seeing the lights now all bobbing around on the field, you can start to judge approximately how far back they are.  I continued to follow Nacho's lead as he navigated the twists and turns of the single track across the field (making my job easier).  There hardly needed to be any flags (which were hard enough to see in the dark anyways) in this section because the only way you could really go was in the single track path that was trampled down.  If you wandered from that track, you were probably going to be in knee deep snow.  I got to also see Steve Dowsett in 3rd and how close he was (and whoever was behind him at that point).  The only reason I could tell it was Steve back in third was because of his headlamp having a red light in the back.  You couldn't make out who was who, but he was the only one I knew that had that red light on.  It was kind of like a target for whoever was behind him.  I would have turned that off for sure :).

We exited the field finally after a great section of the race course, and hit double track ski trail for a good while.  Nacho appeared to have me by quite a bit here but I could still see his light illuminating the snow and trail up ahead.  Pretty soon we were back on a familiar section of the climb back up to the final hill.  I seemed to make up a little ground here, but still had to put up with the occasional calf cramp that just made me want to continue the status quo and finish the race in at least second (and hold off the rest of the talented field).  The switchback climb came and it wasn't anywhere near as bad as I remembered.  The climb actually didn't bother my calf as much as the faster, flatter sections.  I hit the top of the climb finally, and even though I could see Nacho's headlamp on some of the switchback sections, he still seemed to have a lot of ground on me.  When I hit the very top, I ran by a couple of people who were cheering us on (but you couldn't see anyone it was still so dark).  One of them said to me that Nacho had about 20 something seconds on me.  It seemed like Nacho was further up on me than that, but I was thinking the climb hurt him a bit so I actually started to push despite the calf looming.    The descent at first is a cruel joke because you start climbing back up after just a short push down.  You end up coming back up the other side of the hill in the other direction and it really kicks you in the butt if you are new to the course (because you are expecting to drop down and lose all the elevation at that point).  I was familiar with this and knew I had to climb again.  I pushed up the climb and noticed Nacho pretty close on one of the first switchbacks down.  I think at that point I had cut his lead in half in just that short amount of time.  He noticed me for sure and I figured I was less than 10 second back almost out of nowhere.  I thought at that point he was hurting and I may actually get him. For the entire way down, I was expecting to roll up on him and replay the finish from the only other time I lost this race... But being the tough competitor that he is, he pushed down the last tricky and narrow descent to the flat section of course near the end (where I was unable to get around Kevin a couple years ago).  I hit that section and saw him now just a bit too far ahead to catch. I took the last turn and went up on my toes one last time to push to the line and my calf cramped up 100% almost knocking me to a halt (but within sight of the finish clock).  I stiff legged it in and finished 13 seconds behind Nacho for what I am considering a great run despite my calf issues.

I really was happy with my race. I think my speed is obviously lacking right now due to zero workouts, but my actually cardio is starting to come around. The more I race, the more my legs will start to come around as well.   Nacho seemed gassed and just glad to have won.  He actually had apparently eaten only 1 hour before the race so his stomach was upset.  I felt great but had my leg to deal with.  It felt immediately fine after I finished and felt fine on the 2 mile (slow) cooldown w/ Dowsett, Pawlicki, and Jackman who all finished 3-4-5 respectfully.  The more I talk to Nacho the more I realize how cool of a guy he is and he's a graceful winner for sure.  He's really coming around w/ the snowshoeing now and I think he's going to have a great Nationals for sure.  He seems pretty excited about it.  I just hope to be able to stay close to him in any other races this season.  If I do, I know I'll run pretty well.

The Garmin Data:

 Top 10 Overall (CMS in blue):

1Nacho Hernando20ConcordNH33:327:27Sweties Pies
2Jim Johnson36MadisonNH33:457:30CMS
3Steve Dowsett26NewburyportMA35:557:59Whirlaway
4James Pawlicki39LynnMA36:018:01CMS
5Robert Jackman31WarwickRI36:198:05Tuesday Night Turtles
6Phil Erwin46Wading RiverNY37:348:21acidotic RACING
7Marek Telus38HopkintonNH38:248:32acidotic RACING
8Quinn Parker20HamptonNH38:378:35Sweetie Pies
9Scott Mitchell44New DurhamNH39:378:49acidotic RACING
10Jason Massa46ConcordNH39:468:51acidotic RACING

105 Total Finishers.

The ride home was horrendous.  It took me over 2 hours and I don't think I ever went over 40mph even on 16N.  The roads were not plowed and there was just a single set of tire tracks that everyone was using.  There was one car deep off the road and I only saw 1 plow for about 1 exit before it got back off the highway.

Cool video of the start of the race:

Friday, February 14, 2014

February 14 (Friday)

February 14 (Friday) - V-Day spent w/ my ladies... Took today off to rest the calf and not push my luck w/ Saturday night's race down in Madbury.  Shoveled for a while and did a lot of stretching but didn't go push my luck on the mill for meaningless junk miles.  Considering I already had awful calf pain during a 'jog' on the mill yesterday, I would take 24 hours to let the calf repair itself.  I just think there's a deep knot in there I need to get out.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

February 13 (Thursday)

February 13 (Thursday) - Slow going over to The Mill to do a nice easy run.  I got 9 miles in and at 9.04 I got an insanely painful calf cramp (like someone literally stuck a knife right in about an inch below the knee). It was probably the worst one I've ever had.  No clue where it came from but I did feel pretty tight today so I'm sure it was just a matter of time. It was scary though because it was out of twinges or anything leading up.   It was so bad and so acute I immediately hit the stop button and hopped off.  I was running super slow and easy (good thing).  It was fine immediately after I got off so I just need to make sure it's nice and stretched out and loose before the next spin.  I did some light lifting afterwards and then made the perilous journey up and over East Madison Rd. to my house. Probably the second worst conditions I've ever driven in (and the worst since moving here).  The road was not plowed at all and the drifts and blowing snow made huge sections of the road really uneven and caked with deep snow.  I don't ever remember a real major town road that had that much snow on it... I don't know why there were no plows actually plowing the roads but it could have something to do with the fact that 2-3 inches an hour was falling.  It was amazing how much snow came so quickly.   I slid off a couple times into the shoulder and rode into a couple of snowbanks. The visibility was also horrible.  I had to almost come to a complete stop because I couldn't tell which way I was going.  If I wasn't so familiar with each turn of that road, it could have been a lot uglier.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

February 12 (Wednesday)

February 12 (Wednesday) - Got a late jump out of work but still hit the mill in plenty of time... meandered through the normal 10 Miles in 70:37.  No time for pool or anything after so not much in the way of anything else interesting.  We have some snow on the way tomorrow.  Should be good enough to tack on another 12 inches to the already base of 24 that is all over my yard.  We need more snow cover here like a hole in the head... I started up the generator today for the first time basically all winter, just to see if it starts and runs. We're good to go just in case... I can't wait to throw my back out on Friday, shoveling.  Good times.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February 11 (Tuesday)

February 11 (Tuesday) - Another cold one out today but beautiful sunny day... did I get out?  No, not quite.  Besides going out to get the mail, I only got outside again to drive to the mill for my nightly jaunt.  10 miles in 66:51.... on the sh*tty treadmill!  Doc Brown was on the good one when I got in and he was only 10 minutes deep into his run, so I pulled up along side him and just set it to 9mph and started talkin' smack to him for the rest of his workout.  He had his iPad setup and he was playing online poker as he was running.  That is a baller.  He was up 90 G's when I got there.  After the 10 miles, I shot down into the pool for 10 laps.  I always feel amazing after a run when I can get in the pool for a bit..  No time for the hot tub though...had to get out of there...

Also...more coffee talk...

Monday, February 10, 2014

February 10 (Monday)

February 10 (Monday) - 10 miles easy on the mill (75:00).  Felt surprisingly good for having raced the double this weekend and my calf was a non-issue completely at the slow pace.  A good shakeout despite the fact that I left my headphones at home and had to do it entirely sans music.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

February 9 (Sunday) - Moose Mountain and Weekly Recap

February 9 (Sunday)

Weekly Recap:
Days Running: 7
Total Runs: 10
 - Treadmill: 5
 - Snowshoe: 2
 - Trail/Snow: 3
Total Races: 2
Total Miles: 67.1

Mileage down a little this week but I was sick and I bailed on a cooldown on Sunday that would have at least got me 70.  So 67 on a sick week, with runs every day and a 6 mile day on Sunday, I'll take.  I got 2 solid races in on Saturday and Sunday (like old times).  Both snowshoe races including a tough effort on Sunday at a location that was near and dear to me (but literally pretty near to me) :).  I'll look to increase the miles maybe a hair this week but continue running each day and putting together some fitness.

February 9 (Sunday) - 6.1 Miles total.  3 mile w/ up including some snowmobile trail (with Trailrocs) with Paul Baz + some snowshoe running before the start.  We hit the middle section of the course for an out and back.  Then race: Moose Mountain Runaround Snowshoe Race.  1st OA out of ???.  It was a pretty small field.  Maybe 20-30 people if that.  The race was down the road in Brookfield, NH right past the Wakefield line at the base of Moose Mountain.  This was the same place I hit up a few times while I lived in Wakefield a couple winters ago before I moved to Madison.  I had wanted to do a snowshoe race here (and by 'do' I mean race direct) for a couple years now.  It made perfect sense.  There were gads of options.  It's got a HUGE parking lot, a few open fields, a crazy intersection of local snowmobile trails and major NH corridor trails, an amazing facility with snack bar, seating, bathrooms, and last but not least, the MOUNTAIN.  It currently serves as a tubing park but they have frisbee golf in the summer + a bunch of other activities and events.  It's very popular w/ snowmobilers because of the parking and intersection of a bunch of trails.  They also go straight up and down and over the mountain.  Kevin and I scoped this out last year and tried to figure out where we could have the race.  I also had talked to Chris Dunn at acidotic / GSSS about possibly having a race there.... but then Dan Coons (acidotic) beat me to it this year!   I saw a flyer at Sidehiller about the race and was floored.  I lost an opportunity to start a great race there, but Dan did a great job at hoping on it and getting it done.  I wanted to go support the race and check it out for sure (if I was feeling ok after Horse Hill).  It's not too far away, plus it gave me a chance to swing over to my parent's place in Wakefield afterwards to check everything out while they are away for the winter.  I had been meaning to do that.  So this was killing 2 birds so to speak.

I got down to Moose Mountain in Brookfield, NH nice and early, went inside and registered.  Then I got to sit inside and stretch and massage my calf that had been VERY sore after Horse Hill and got progressively worse as the day/night progressed.  I was hoping it would just be sore from the day before and not progressively get worse with a harder effort on Sunday.  The course was looking pretty dang sweet.  It was advertised as 3.5 miles and had single track, snowmobile trail, some climbing, some loose snow, some open fields, and one of the coolest single track descents I've ever seen.  Paul Bazanchuk showed up and we headed out for a warmup over the course (snowmobile section).  The conditions were great.  Not rock solid, not too loose.  The field and single track was a different story.  They were loose, deep snow and slow.  Unfortunately the course didn't really go up the mountain any higher than the top of the tubing park, but it was ok.  I was just looking for a good effort on a new course and just get some more snowshoeing in.  After the warmup, Paul and I got on the snowshoes and I did a little more running back and forth near the start at the base of the mountain.

The race went off with about 25 or so (maybe a few more).  I took the lead but didn't really push it.  I wanted to just get a good effort in but didn't want to aggravate my calf any more.  For the first half mile or so I ran pretty easy and had a couple of acidotic guys in tow (Phil, Scott, and Paul Baz were lingering).  After the small field section, the single track loop up near the tubing park was brutal.  Slow sugary snow that basically slowed my pace to almost a walk.  After that section, I cut down across a rough snowmobile trail/groomed section and down across to the snowmobile trail loop which was the major part of the course.  I continued to go easy on the faster sections of the course but soon felt awful on the climbing (and it wasn't even that much climbing).  I just felt flat and tired.  The snowmobile trail was beautiful and nice footing but I was gassed.  I hit a couple of the cut-through sections of single track and continued up the snowmobile trail.  After a while, I kept peaking around corners to see if I had any company because I felt so slow.  I didn't see anyone so I figured they were having as rough of a day as I was.  Somewhere during the uphill climb on the snowmobile trail, the course then took a right off onto a single track trail that reminded me of Curly's Record Run (the descent).  It was the same type of tracked single track as the Horse Hill course, but windy switchbacks down down down.  It was so much fun, especially after that climb.  I turned on the jets and tried to work that section even though it was a perfect place to 'recover'.  Eventually it dumped back out onto snowmobile trail and I knew where I was at that point (it was around the same place I lost my car keys a couple years ago). I pushed on back to the parking lot and up across the base of the mountain to the win (a rare win these days).

Gary Reuter Photo

To my amazement, it was a bunch of minutes before I saw the next person.  I was nervous at first, looking at my watch and seeing only 3.15, that maybe I screwed up...but after talking w/ a bunch of people coming in later on who also had GPS, we all had the same.  I think the course (with all the single track switchbacks) could have been around 3.5 like Dan had on his GPS the couple times he did the course, tracking it and marking it.  After about 4-5 minutes or so, I saw a pink singlet pop out of the woods with Leslie Beckwith inside it. At first I was thinking 'wow, she broke those guys on the climb'...but then when she came across the line in 2nd place I asked her when she took 2nd place.  She looked at me confused.  She didn't know she had come in 2nd.  Phil Erwin and Scott Mitchell and Paul Baz all missed that single track downhill off of the snowmobile trail and continued to run up towards Tumbledown Dick Mtn.  They ran an extra half mile up before realizing they were off course and all turned and headed back down to where the turn was.  Then they had to blow past a bunch of people on the single track to get back.  Scott also found a small black glove on the trail past where the turn was, and thought I had been through there and dropped it, so it gave them false hope that they were still on the right trail.  So instead of finishing 2-4, they much deeper down in the results.  I didn't have any problems following the markers.  I saw the flagging and Dan had spray painted (orange) arrows, etc.  I guess when you are in a small pack and racing each other, you tend to key off the others and if someone misses it, you all miss it.  I felt bad for those guys, but good for Leslie.  Then I felt bad for Leslie because if I didn't go to the race, she would have won the entire thing outright :).

I really did love the course and love the location.  It's got so much potential for other course options, plus it's nice and centrally located right off of 16.  A good option for a GSSS race in the future for sure!

After the race, I went back inside and got ready for a cooldown but my calf was really stiffening up and I opted to grab a coffee and something to eat (hot chili) before heading over to Wakefield to check on my parents lake house.

Good end to the week.  A fun time with 2 good snowshoe efforts and no injuries to speak of. I'm feeling slightly better too so I'll take it!

Garmin Data:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

February 8 (Saturday) - Horse Hill Snowshoe Race

February 8 (Saturday) - Horse Hill Snowshoe Race.  10.7 miles total.  3.6+ w/up + 4 race + 3.1 c/dwn.

Woke up early and hit the bricks pre-6am so I could take my time getting down to Merrimack, NH for the 2014 Horse Hill 7k Snowshoe Race (results) which served again as a race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series. I have run this race (and won) 4 times (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013...not going in 2012). In going down there just about every February, I knew the parking lot was pretty small so I decided to get a head start, grab some breakfast on the way down, and get there in plenty of time to get a spot.  My plan worked as I rolled into the parking lot at the Horse Hill Nature Preserve nice and early and was the first one there besides RD Mike Amarello and Alec Wolfe (timer).

As everyone showed up, I got ready and headed out for a warmup on the roads with Dave Dunham (who got me sick this week), Kevin Tilton (who refused to carpool with me), Dave Lapierre, and Scott McGrath (who is training in secret now).  It was looking like a good field for sure when we got back, as Brandon Newbould, Tim Mallard, and Nacho Hernando were all in the parking lot getting ready.  I threw on the Dions and headed out for a little more warming up on the course.  As I was checking out the first half mile or so, I saw Ben Nephew and Chad Carr along with a slew of others who would all be in contention for the top 10.  The field was stacked but the course was looking like it was going to be a little bit of a grind.  The course was entirely 'single track' in the sense that that was all that was tracked out.  The rest of it was loose, deep snow.  There would be little room to pass without a lot of effort.  I figured the course would have a few sections at least, of a groomed, open spot to make a move...but that would never come.  The beginning and the end (in the photos below) were the best spots to make a pass and you can tell by the pictures, it wasn't ideal.

My only lead of the day...
My only lead of the day...
As the race began, I was hesitant on taking the lead but it was obvious one again that no one likes to go out front early, especially on a course where you may be dealing with some loose single track conditions that would take a tougher toll on a leader.  I reluctantly found myself out front in a relatively slow (seemingly) pace.  I hit the familiar left turn into the woods from the beginning section of the course, and was immediately followed by the train of Nacho, Scott, and Brandon.  Once we hit the steepest hill on the course (which you'd go up and come back down later), Nacho shot wide around me and blasted out to the lead.  He opened up a decent lead on me but by the time we crested the hill and started to wind down the single track switchbacks and twists and turns of the mountain bike trails, I caught back up to Nacho.  Scott started to fade back just a bit and then before I knew it, Brandon made his way up on my heels.  He clipped me once and I knew he was ready to rock around me, but it was tough.  There really was no good place to make a move during that section of the course.  As I continued to ride right behind Nacho I started to feel like the pace was slowing.  We seemed to be losing the lead a bit and I was nervous that Scott would catch back up.  Behind him I noticed Kevin was lingering so I wanted to make sure we kept up the pace.  I was about to say something to Nacho a couple times about picking the pace up a bit to try to light a fire (rather than burn cycles trying to pass him).  Before I had a chance to say something, Brandon plowed around us in the deep snow and made a strong move and passed both of us in the same move.  Soon after that, he started to pull away just a bit and put distance on Nacho and I.  I continued to try to stay on Nacho's heels through the twisty turns and the ups and downs of the single track.  At some point, Nacho and I started to spread out and Brandon worked on his lead.  But amazingly just as it seemed like we were going to be spread out and finish 1-2-3 in the current order, Brandon had a couple of miscues with the turns and actually stumbled/stopped a couple times and yelled back to us about which way the course was supposed to go.  It allowed both Nacho and I to catch back up twice.  This proved to be the difference maker for Nacho.  As mile 3 came and went, I dropped back about 5-7 seconds of those two as they battled.  On the final climb back up, Brandon looked to be pulling away just a bit, with Nacho close behind and I was falling off the pace and now focused on trying to hold onto 3rd.  As we crested up and over the top of the course, I really thought I was running hard but I started to lose sight of the two in front of me to my amazement.  They were battling for sure.  I hammered the downhill and turned the corner back onto the start/finish stretch and couldn't even see either of them anymore.  The last time I had seen them (a minute or two back) Brandon still had a lead.  By the time I passed by a spectating Nate Jenkins on the side of the course, I found out that Nacho had blasted past Brandon and won the race... handing Brandon his first ever snowshoe race loss and my first ever defeat at Horse Hill.  I hung on for 3rd place in a deep field and felt good about the effort.  My calf twinged a bit (as it has been) for some reason right away and periodically throughout the race, but it wasn't anything that affected my race.  I think I just have a deep knot in there I need to take care of.

Photos courtesy of Gianina Lindsey

Top 10 Plus CMS In Blue:

1 33:03  8:53Nacho Hernando       SWEETIE PIES             20Concord NH         
2 33:15  8:57Brandon Newbould     WHIRLAWAY                32Nottingham NH      
3 33:35  9:02Jim Johnson          CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS    36Madison NH         
4 34:37  9:19Scott McGrath        WHIRLAWAY                27Andover MA         
5 35:16  9:29Kevin Tilton         CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS    32North Conway NH    
6 35:18  9:30Ben Nephew           CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS    38Mansfield MA       
7 35:23  9:31Chad Carr            CAMBRIDGE RUNNING CLUB   38Cambridge MA       
8 35:58  9:40Joseph Degutis       CAMBRIDGE RUNNING CLUB   36Brookline MA       
9 36:04  9:42Dave Dunham          CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS    49Bradford MA        
10 36:10  9:44Ryan Welts          ACIDOTIC RACING         33Northwood NH 
25 46:11 12:25Melissa Donais   **   CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS   30North Andover MA 
28 46:44 12:34David Lapierre      CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS   49Chelmsford MA 
100 1:32:35 24:54George Boudreau Jr CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS  44Dudley MA

** Melissa Top Woman Overall.

101 Total Finishers.

Garmin Data Below:

Friday, February 7, 2014

February 7 (Friday)

February 7 (Friday) - Got to the mill nice and early but it cost me. About 35 minutes I had to wait for the treadmill. I stretched and then just sat there and stared at the TV until the person got off from their jog.  I hate sounding like a jerk, but there is another treadmill next to it for walking and jogging.  I now refuse to get on that one as it stops and errors out with a 'motor overload' message when you go too hard on it....very dangerous.  I watched a kid show me how that was done the other day and it proves what Darin Brown said about it. I will never use that one again. So I just waited for the good one to free up.  Then I got on it and sulked for 75 minutes. 10 miles.

Inov-8 2014 Team officially announced here.  Looking forward to this year and honored to be part of the team again.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

February 6 (Thursday)

February 6 (Thursday) - After shoveling (finally) for 90 minutes and wrecking my back, I headed down to the mill for the normal 10 Miles in an easy 75 minutes (just going through the motions)...but this time I cranked it up to the mythical %1 grade for the duration.  Afterwards, 10 laps of the pool at a quicker tempo with less rest in between laps (yes I usually have to catch my breath in between laps).  Then some stretching in the hot tub before heading home and crashing. Felt like death running tonight...but I ran. Again.  Good news is that nothing hurts.  Bad news is that my body is severely reacting to whatever plague Dave Dunham unleashed on me at Beaver Brook when he coughed on me during the warmup.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

February 5 (Wednesday)

February 5 (Wednesday) - Sick. Sore throat. Rough night of sleep (or lack of). Work all day and didn't get done until later than usual.  Ran outside to go to the mill and realized I hadn't shoveled and we got 10 inches of snow and there was a nice snowbank I had to break through at the end of my driveway to get out.  Threw it into 4wd and just busted on through.  Up to the mill (reluctantly) for the usual 10.  Good that even when I'm sick and have zero motivation on an awful day, I can still sneak a run in.  That's what consistency does to you.  10 Miles in 65:49.  A little quicker than a normal jaunt on the mill for me, but it is needed if I'm going to get sharp.  Got 10 laps in the pool afterwards, which always makes me feel better.  Had the place all to myself.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February 4 (Tuesday)

February 4 (Tuesday) - Felt horrible today.  Head cold and just completely wiped out.  I've had a slight throat issue and my stomach hasn't been quite right.  I hit the mill late (didn't get done with work until later) and hopped on for a regular 10 mile jaunt.  I started slow and rolled into it.  10.3 Miles in 70:00.  Felt run down but got it done.  I felt awful when I got home but something I then saw brought a tear to my eye...a tear of joy... For those who aren't on Facebook, Bob Wiles is making a comeback. You heard it here first... Good times.  Good times.

Monday, February 3, 2014

February 3 (Monday)

February 3 (Monday) - Felt like crap all day.  Definitely caught something (probably whatever Double-D had on Saturday)... Last night I started to feel it and was hurting all day today.  Had absolutely no motivation or energy to run today but at around 5:30 I decided to get out.  I headed down to the Mill to renew my membership (but now just 1 month at a time) which ran out on 1/31.  I then hopped on the mill.  I thought about getting off at 3 miles....4 miles... 5 miles... 6 miles.  I sucked it up and did the full 10 Miles (easy) but felt horrible doing it.   Even running slow I was just really zapped.  Definitely have another head cold on it's way. 75:00...about as slow as it gets.  Legs feel OK even after the longer (time-wise) effort yesterday in the snow, and the quick race on Saturday.   Chatted a bit w/ Darin Brown who was just finishing up his workout when I was going in there.  He belted out some more repeat miles in 5:20s or so.  Solid.  I wish I had that energy right now.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

February 2 (Sunday) - Weekly Recap

Weekly Recap:
Days Running: 7
Total Runs: 10
 - Treadmill: 5
 - Snowshoe: 3
 - Trail/Snow: 2
Total Races: 1
Total Miles: 71.7

Solid week, down a bit from last week mileage-wise but still strong.  Only one double during the week this week was the difference in miles.  I got out for a couple of solo snowshoe runs in awesome weather this week and  I also got in another snowshoe race, which is always good.  Putting myself in race situations as frequently as possible is crucial for me to stay sharp. I got a nice win at Beaver Brook (my 4th time winning that race) and had a nice fast workout in the process.  Long drive to accomplish that, but good to get back into the swing of things.

February 2 (Sunday) - 10 miles on snowshoes (1:35:52).  Lower Nanamocomuck ski trail from the covered bridge.  5 miles out and 5 miles back.  Snow was not that great.  There were a lot of rough thin patches along the river and some in the wet spots early on in the run.  The area around Rocky Gorge was ok but about a mile past it, some joker had gone in there and post-holed the absolute crap out of the trail.  They came from the Bear Notch Rd. end and turned around a couple miles in. I got about 1.5 miles past the gorge and then turned and headed back as I kept landing in the holes and twisting my ankle and foot.  It was just too rough.  No one had skied that section at all and only the areas right near the gorge and during the first 1.5 miles from the bridge had been skied any time recently.  It was definitely not as nice as I was hoping.  The weather was great though. Nice easy jaunt to wrap up the week.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

February 1 (Saturday) - Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race

Gianina Lindsey - All Photos
February 1 (Saturday) - Well, against better judgement I got up at the crack of dawn and headed down to Hollis, NH (2+ hour ride) for the Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race (results), which served as the 3rd race (after a re-scheduling) in the Granite State Snowshoe Race.  I say 'against better judgement' because late yesterday after trying for 7 hours to find a suitable 'snowshoeable' course to use, RD Mike Amarello made an announcement on Facebook about sub-par conditions and a directive for 'lowered expectations' for Saturday's race.  I was admittedly very nervous about the conditions, knowing that most of the week the conditions down south had deteriorated.  But now, being the night before the race, it was announced that it was still on, so I reluctantly got my stuff together and headed down.  I was nervous about my equipment. I didn't want to break a snowshoe or a cleat (or two) by running over exposed ground, rocks, roots, etc.

As I weaved my way down 25 towards 93, it didn't take too long to go from amazing snow here in the valley to thin snow and a massive amount of bare ground, right around Moultonborough and Center Harbor.  As I headed down 93, much of the same.  Logs of bare ground and the woods were really thin.  My expectations for Beaver Brook were not looking good.  However by the time I got into Hollis and near the race course, it didn't look too too bad.  It was still probably not even half what we have here, but still there was seemingly enough coverage, especially in the fields which was a big surprise.

I pulled into the parking lot and saw Dave Dunham's car and immediately saw NH Runner of the Year for 2013, Nacho Hernando (Concord, NH by way of Madrid, Spain), looking to do his first snowshoe race.  Well let me tell you, there was not a faster race out there than this one, so he picked a good one.  He's young, quick, and the course is incredibly short and easy.  Chris Dunn immediately told me that the course was an out and back.  Just like in 2010 (when the infamous snowshoe photo of the century was taken).  This year's course (because of where it started) was probably 10-15 seconds or so shorter than that year at the most.  Only the very start was slightly different and the rest was identical.

I threw on some Kahtoola Micro Spikes and Dunham and I headed out for our warmup on the straight out and back course.  We added on a bit at one of the intersections to get at least 3 miles in (with my strides).  The course was only 1.2 (on my Garmin) to the turn around, so 2.4-ish long total.  I whipped on my Dion 121's and did a bunch more running around and some strides before getting onto the line for the final words of wisdom from Mike Amarello, and then the start.

The race went off and immediately half the field targeted a small 5 foot wide section of relatively packed trail to run on, even though it wasn't the most direct path to the turn at the end of the field onto the main ski trail.  In the first few steps, I fell behind somehow and had to muscle my way around a surging Chris Dunn, who begun to toss his weight around and throw elbows (visual evidence below).

Chris Dunn knocking my hat crooked after an elbow to the side...whatever it takes!

I eventually was able to get around Chris and push out to the front before the turn onto the main trail.  From there, it was downhill and flat out to the turn around.  The trail was packed and icy with some very thin to bare spots only in a few sections with heavy tree cover.  The rest of the course was 'shoeable' but it was almost like running on the roads...very fast indeed.

I felt fairly good and clicked through the first mile on my Garmin in 5:42.  That's pretty good for a snowshoe race for sure.  It included the obvious super fast conditions but also the nice downhill that you have to come UP on the way back.  The entire way out, Nacho was lingering right behind me. I wasn't shaking him because there really was no place to pull away from a guy like that... He is a quick road and XC guy.  If I had some deep snow or a good climb, I may have been able to pull away a bit just from the sheer fact that this was his first snowshoe race and maybe my experience would benefit me in that case, but it was so fast that I couldn't make any sort of decisive moves until possibly on the way back.  My plan was to try to stay ahead of him until the climb up on the way back and then maybe try to grind it out there.  I hit the turn around in 6:46 and I was only a few ticks up on Nacho.  I had a feeling he may get me on the way back before the hill, so I tried to keep pushing to get there before I got passed.  Eventually the climbing started and I looked back one more time to see that he had fallen back a bit.  The more climbing went passed, the larger the gap became and by the time I took the last turn onto the field, I had a good enough lead that I could finally relax. 7:36 on the way back (up).  I was relieved, as I really did anticipate yet another 2nd place in a series race this year.  But I led from start to finish (like old times) and felt pretty strong. I think my fitness is starting to come along. Am I ready for a 5k or 10 mile road race?  Heck no.  But I am starting to think I am getting stronger for the first time in a long while...which is a good thing when it's only February.

The Garmin data:

All in all it was an OK course all things considered. I thought it was going to be a LOT worse.  Mike did a good job with what he had to work with, considering the normal course was just too thin and bare in spots.  It definitely catered to the guys with wheels (yet somehow I managed to hang on).  People who may like a long, tough uphill grind, mountain climbs, and deep, messy snow, would have not enjoyed this course (Dave Dunham).  For me, it may be the only 'W' I get all year, so I'll take it.  Hopefully Horsehill gets some additional snow this week to make that a feasible race as well.  It's a good course when the conditions are right.

Top 10 Overall (CMS in Blue)

114:22Jim Johnson     CMS                 36Madison NH       
214:45Nacho Hernando                      20Concord NH       
315:53Ryan Welts      ACIDOTIC RACING     33Northboro NH     
415:57Dunham Dave     CMS                 49Bradford MA      
515:59Phil Erwin      ACIDOTIC RACING     46Wading River NY  
616:51Chris Dunn      ACIDOTIC RACING     45Strafford NH     
717:16Marek Telus                         38Hopkinton NH     
817:19Tom Hooper                          35Lee NH           
917:19Scott Mitchell  ACIDOTIC RACING     44Greenlande NH    
1017:21Justin Beaudry  LAZY LIGHTNING      32New Boston NH    

75 Total Finishers.

After the race, DD and I did another cooldown on the course again.  Nacho flew past us on his cooldown like we were standing still.  After a couple of cups of Mike Amarello's famous Kale Soup, I hit the road for my 3 hour ride home.  I got stuck in Meredith, NH from Harts Turkey Farm to the turn onto Rt. 25 (about a 1.5 mile stretch).  It took me 30 minutes to go that far due to the New England Pond Hockey Classic going on (plus about 5000 drunk snowmobilers and ice fishermen cutting back and forth across the road continuously).  Good times.