Saturday, February 28, 2015

February 28 (Saturday) - Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race

February 28 (Saturday) - On Saturday morning I headed over to the Mill in the am for a very easy run on the mill to loosen up.  5 miles.  Then it was down to Bedford for some personal business.  Early in the afternoon I shot up and over to Madbury, NH for the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe race (results).  I got there super early so I had to wait around a bit more than I would have liked but by 4:30ish, people started to fill into the parking lot.

I was pleased to see a good field being assembled for this one including my CMS teammates Chris Mahoney (who used to blog, then he stopped, then he started again, but then he stopped) and Eric Narcisi, and also Bob Jackman and Andrew Drummond among others.  It was shaping up to be a quick one as the majority of the course looked to be very solid and fast.  Race Director Chris Dunn promised some 'interesting' spots of the race including the open fields (which were messy as usual) and a new section that certainly lived up to they hype.

I warmed up w/ Chris M. and Eric on the roads for 3 miles and then Chris and I did another 0.7 miles of a mile or so on snowshoes over the first and last parts of the course.  Then we all lined up as darkness fell (start pushed back 15 minutes because this is a late date for this night race to take place), for the start of the 4.3 mile moonlight trek around the woods of Kingman Farm.

On the go command, I was off and running relatively quickly but still cognizant of the fact that there were some tough sections out there and the race was on the longer side of normal (4.3 miles this year).  I clipped through the first mile of twisting and turning single track right around 5:50 pace on my watch.  Seemed like a fast pace for the effort, which was a good sign for me for sure.  After that, my watch seemed to be going in and out at times. I'm not sure if the battery was going or what.  But I pushed along and by the mile I did have a pretty good lead. I could still see headlamps behind me (no doubt Chris and Eric) but it was a pretty substantial lead.  There was one rather confusing section (confusing to me because I didn't pay too much attention to the pre-race instructions and also I didn't study the map at all so I didn't know that the race course had any 'two way traffic' sections.  I came to a left-hand turn that looked like I could go both ways.  I looked at the other side of the trail and the arrow was going right...but the direction of the flags and the arrow right in front of me was going left.  I staggered for a quick moment and stopped for a second to try to figure out what to do.  I quickly made the decision to go left.  That was the right way....but on the way back, that intersection proved to be the killer for quite a bit of the top runners.

The field section seem to come pretty quick.  The open fields you run across is basically a meandering single track of snowshoe rail that has been laid down in no real particular route. It's just kind of weaving around.  It makes it very interesting each year.  Another cool thing this year were the addition of periodic ice sculptures in the shape of cylinders with candle lights inside.  Every once in a while throughout the whole course was one of these lighting the way.  By the time I came off the fields, I had a pretty big lead on whoever was in second. I could see lights across the field but you obviously cannot tell who it is.  I just went through the motions on the field, thinking that no way anyone was going to make up any time on me on that sloppy, unpredictable snow.

Once I got back in the woods, I started down this familiar wider path until there was a new very sharp turn off and up to the left (I almost blew straight past it).  This was the new section that Chris mentioned and it definitely was a ball buster.  The snow was deep, complete sugar, and postholed to death.  Every step was a foot's worth of sinking and tripping all over the place.  It didn't stop at the top either.  It climbed a decent amount and then cut across an open area and back down to the normal trail.  The entire thing was a nightmare and made me realize why I started to kind of fall out of love with snowshoe running this year.  I never saw anyone the rest of the time.  The last time I had seen lights behind me was on the field.  So after finally getting off that section of basically breaking trail (or even worse considering the whole thing was post-holed), I opened it back up again down to another section that confused the crap out of me.  I ended up coming to a two-way-traffic section of the course I just never remembered or expected.  I got really nervous and thought I was going the wrong way. I would see an arrow going in the opposite direction but then would see another going in the right direction.  I just kept thinking I did something wrong or missed a turn because at night, even with the headlamp, it gets very disorienting and it's a lot tougher to try to envision where you are.

Then I hit the intersection of death.  It was the first confusing (to me) intersection that I noticed on the way out.  Just the way it was laid out (maybe in the daytime it was obvious but at night it was very tough to determine) was a bit confusing when you are running at top speed and trying to make a split section decision.  I started to slow down thinking I was going in the wrong direction and didn't want to go too far in the wrong direction before having to turn around.  I actually stopped for a moment again and tried to figure it out.  I took a couple steps forward and noticed an arrow and additional flagging going straight.  I also remembered that if I took a right there, it would go back to the start, which would have been wrong.  It definitely helped having run this race before, even if some of the course changes.  I headed up straight until I came to the far end of the field that in previous years, we came off of in the opposite direction.  I saw the familiar right-hand turn onto the start of the climb.  I knew I was good there and started to climb. I had no visibility on my time as my watch looked like it had shut off...but there was absolutely no one behind me.  Little did I know that at that time, 2nd place through maybe 5th or 6th all went the wrong way.  So there was no one behind me for many minutes at that point.  I hit the climb and really just took it easy over the last mile.  I knew I would make it back in 1st and didn't really kill myself on the climb which seemed to go by very quickly. I got to the top in no time and then dropped down a bit, then back up, over, and back down.  My watch looked to be working by the time I got near some spectators on the way to the finish area.  I saw close to 4.3 on the watch right when I finished, which was right on what Chris said the race was.  Then my watch shut off again so I wasn't sure this would even upload until I got home. I started asking around and the range of distances people had were pretty interesting.

The most shocking thing at the time though was when I came across the line to finish and saw Chris and Eric already standing there.  I think one of them may have said something like 'congrats on third'...  I immediately thought 'oh my God I went the wrong way'... but then they explained that they had taken a wrong turn at that last junction on the two-way section and had come back to the start/finish area from the wrong direction.  Chris Dunn had immediately told them they had gone the wrong way.  Chris Mahoney had about 3.8 or so on his watch.  They had completely missed the last climb and switchback section.  I then saw Bob Jackman come walking in carrying his snowshoes.  This is the second time in a snowshoe race I've seen Bob with his snowshoes in his hand at the end, where he'd miss a turn.  He's got some bad luck for sure in some of these races.  He had also gone the wrong way at that same intersection and so did Andrew Drummond who was in the top 5 or so when he also went the wrong way.  He and Bob went back and did the last bit (more or less) and Andrew got into the results having run 5.3 miles or so.   I think there were a couple others who unfortunately got lost on the way back too and ended up either running long or dropping out.  Before things got too out of hand, Chris Dunn ran down to that junction and made sure people went the right way.  So the damage was minimized after the first couple groups of people.

The results I believe have the per mile pace set for a 5k distance.  This was 4.3 miles so I was able to clip off about 7:09 pace overall, which is actually pretty incredible considering that in the new section where (according to Strava) I dropped down to 15:07 pace for a bit... and then the field, where I never could really get going all that quick.  The climb at the end (switchbacks) isn't bad at all, but that still cuts the pace way down... Overall, I was happy with the effort and of course the good fortune of staying on course for the win.

I cooled down with Jackman, Mahoney, and Narcisi for another 3 miles around the roads of Madbury before promptly bonking just in time to go inside to grab something to eat.  16 miles on the day.

Aside from the mishap at the end for a few of the top dogs, it was yet another fine event put on by acidoticRacing (as if we ever expected anything else).  There were some great raffle prizes to be had afterwards and there was a chili cook-off competition on the side with many great chili recipes to try.  I few of the ones I wanted to try had unfortunately run dry before I had a chance to taste test because Andrew Drummond got to all of them first.

Strava Data:

Friday, February 27, 2015

February 27 (Friday)

February 27 (Friday) - 6 miles on the mill at lunch and then another 6 miles on the mill after work.   A little over a week until Daylight Saving Time and 20 days until Spring...

Thursday, February 26, 2015

February 26 (Thursday)

February 26 (Thursday) - 10 miles after work on the mill.  Was thinking of going 8-12 so 10 seemed like a good fit.  No afternoon run as I was busy at lunch running 600 feet of ethernet cable down into the basement and up into the living room to the TV so Tabby Rose could watch My Little Pony's Twinkle Wish Adventure on Netflix over and over and over and over and over and over and over again without any network latency or dropped packets do to spotty my wireless signal.

Also...this month's (March) edition of New Hampshire Magazine features a small interview about how to train for a marathon by yours truly.  It's a slightly abbreviated writeup but it captures most of the important points I was trying to make.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

February 25 (Wednesday)

February 25 (Wednesday) - 8 miles easy at lunch.  Then another 6 miles after work.  All on the mill.  14 miles on the day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 24 (Tuesday)

February 24 (Tuesday) - No lunch run as I had a meeting.  After work, 14 miles on the treadmill as a tempo workout.  2 mile warmup (15:00).  Then 10 miles in 57:10.  2 mile cooldown (15:00).  1:27:10 for the 14.  5:45s for about 8 miles or so and then slowly juiced the tempo up a bit.  Finished the last couple min. at 5 min pace.

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23 (Monday)

February 23 (Monday) - 8 miles at lunch on the mill nice and easy.  After work another easy 6 miles.  Total on the day: 14 miles.

Some video of the last mile at the Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo this past weekend courtesy of Gianina Lindsey.  This was right near the intersection and in the background you can still see people starting the second loop as we are finishing.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

February 22 (Sunday) - Weekly Summary

February 22 (Sunday) - It was a beautiful day outside and I was really tempted to enjoy the near summer-time temps (30s F) with a spin on the roads (by spin I mean run, not biking of course).  But alas I decided to take advantage of the weather by doing a lot of much needed outside work around the  house. I hadn't even shoveled during the last storm we had and now we had another 6-8 inches on top of what was already there.  I had been lazy and just 4-wheeling it in and out of my driveway.  So I spent some time shoveling, de-icing steps and walkways, snowblowing, digging out the mailbox, roof-raking the shed and back porch, and knocking down all the massive icicles hanging off the roof.  There was one that was all the way down touching the ground.  I also had some icedams backing up some water under the overhang of the roof I needed to take care of.  Then it was cleaning out my car and going to the dump, etc.  The usual Sunday stuff.  By the time I thought about running it was 4pm.  I waited a bit more and then went to the mill to bang out just over 12 miles (12.2 miles) to get to an even 81 miles for the week.

Weekly Summary:

Legs and everything feeling really good.  One step closer to wrapping up the snowshoe season (I think I have 2 races to go) and one week closer to getting in some real running.  The weather at the end of the week was a tease but it was mentally a boost I needed.  I'm still hovering around 11.4 miles per day as an average for the year 2015.  Even with a day off at the start of the year when I was sick as balls.  The goal was to try to hit 11 per day average for approx. 4000 miles for the year.  February is quickly coming to a close and I'm still on track... Only 10 more months to go.

Miles: 81
Runs: 12
Races: 1
Longest Run: 12.2
Total Time: 9:54:00

Monday: AM: 6 miles on the treadmill.  41:51.  PM: 6 miles on the treadmill.  45:00.
Tuesday: PM: 8 miles on the treadmill. 55:48. (no morning run...tweaked my back).
Wednesday: AM: 5 miles on the treadmill. 37:30.  PM: 9 miles on the treadmill (workout) as 2 mile warmup (8 min pace) + 5 miles at 27:23 (just south of 5:30 pace) + 2 miles cooldown (8 min pace). 59:23 total.
Thursday: AM: 6 miles on the treadmill. 41:49.  PM: 10 miles on the treadmill.  75:00.
Friday10 miles on the treadmill.  75:00.
Saturday: 2.1 miles warmup before race (on snowshoes) + 3.7 mile race (snowshoe)(strava) + 3 mile cooldown on the roads with Wood and Wood.
Sunday: 12.2 miles on the treadmill (1:24:59).

Saturday, February 21, 2015

February 21 (Saturday) - Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo

February 21 (Saturday) - I made my way down to Exeter for the Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo (results).  This was the latest race in the Granite State Snowshoe Series for 2015.  I did the Exeter race back in 2011 and won it against a pretty good field on a very challenging day.  The race was cancelled in 2012 and 2013 because of no snow.  Last year I didn't go to this race.  So this was only my second time doing the race and I remember all too well, how challenging the conditions were back in 2011.  The race is entirely single track.  It's run in Henderson-Swazey (aka Ft. Rock) Woods in Exeter, NH and consists basically of two big loops.  The course back in 2011 had a lot of snow but it was treacherous.  It was single track (including the start) with a nice 'looking' packed out rail, but it was deceiving.  If you stepped anywhere near the edge of the rail, you punched through a foot or more of rotten snow and went down on your face.  I remember being so nervous with every step last time.  This year, the race course layout was identical and the rail looked about the same but the difference was that it was definitely harder packed for the most part.  There were more 'passing lanes' put in periodically, and there was a nice double-wide start that was about 100 yards or more you could actually line up a few across.  But the rest of the course was tight single track, up and down, twisting and turning.  Don't get me wrong, if you stepped anywhere outside of the packed route at all, you were on your face, but at least the area of the single track that was packed down, was for the most part, solid.  There were very little surprises this time around.

I warmed up a little over 2 miles on a small loop on the course (most of it with Jonathan Miller) and then did some more running around to stay loose, use the bathroom, etc.  So I got a little over 2 miles in (all on snowshoes) before the race.  It was a very cold morning, but after the warmup, I was pretty much overheating, so I opted to go light on the clothes and cover.

I took my spot right on the front of the line and the race was off.  I shot out to the front but kept it relatively under control.  Sam Wood and Andy Drummond were right behind, as was Damon Gannon (who is going to Nationals next weekend).  Those were for the most part, the three guys I was worried about.  Andy sandbags worse then I do, so I never know how in shape he really is.  The guy makes me look lazy as hell as he skis, bikes, runs, hikes, surfs, etc. every day.  I'm pretty sure he also works somewhere in the middle there as well, but he is always a threat.  He said he wasn't really in shape but I figured that was a tall tale as that's what I usually say too ;).  Damon has been a podium guy all season and Sam is always there lurking.  I always think of the 2008 Children's Museum race in Portsmouth when I see Sam and remember him spanking me there pretty good.  I never take anything for granted in a snowshoe race and knew it could be anyone's race.

About 0.3 in, I took my first digger.  Straight down on my face.  Punched both fists and arms directly down into the snow and planted my face right into the cold powder.  I got up, dusted myself off quick, and looked behind me as I started running again, all within 2 seconds (which feels like 20 when it's happening). I could see everyone lined up and coming around the corner, but no one had caught me and no one saw the fall.  I pushed on and opened it up even more over the rest of the first mile.  I continuously kept catching the side of the rail with my snowshoes and almost wiping out, especially on the turns.  The pace of the race was crazy due to the constant changing of ups and downs and lefts and rights.  There was hardly ever a moment of flat, straightaway running.  I clipped through the first mile in 7:35 or so.  I was clear at that point and decided to lay off just a little bit as I suddenly realized that the race was 4 miles, not a 5k, and also I remember how tough of a grind it was over the later miles.

The second mile was about 10 second slower (7:45) much for laying off the pace...but had a pretty good bunch of climbing (small hills but slow and loose snow).  I wiped out again on the way up the steepest climb of the course.  I just lazily stepped on my own snowshoes and fell on my face again.  I was almost walking anyways.

By the third mile split (8:00) I was borderline bonking.  I felt pretty beat.  I was climbing up to where the loops intersect and I went by a course volunteer who told me I was 'almost there'.  I saw I was only just past mile 3, so I knew that was a little bit of a misleading statement, but I appreciated his encouragement.   I dogged the last 7.5 or so and was feeling like complete death.  The course just sucked the life out of my legs and lungs.  I was trying to envision how Nacho would have run on this course and how much further ahead of me he would have been.  It was also hard to fathom that anyone would have been much further ahead of how I was running, but I knew it was probable that I would have been getting killed at that point by the likes of a Newbould or Tilton or someone else who thrives in single track, uphill, messes.

I ended up coming through the finish in 29:03 and was basically on my last legs.  I went out a bit too hard probably (and pulled everyone else out too hard).  Everyone had about the same story....first mile you felt pretty good....second mile was ok....third mile started to get interesting....fourth mile was a nightmare.  The funny thing was that each mile looked about the same...there was nothing really special about the last mile or mile and a half that stood out from the was just a tough day out there the way the race played out. I was thankful I was able to stay ahead of everyone, even with the brutal last stretch.  I also fell one more time during that last mile on a downhill section but I almost welcomed the second or two rest I had, picking myself up out of the snow.  Andy and Damon rounded out the podium.  The race was a pretty good success as everyone seemed to love the course and thought it was very challenging.  111 strong finished the race, which is the largest field of any GSSS race this year so far, just nipping the field at Whitaker.

I did a 3 mile cooldown with Sam and Abbey on the streets right near the industrial park and then promptly bonked on my walk from their car to the food tent.  As blurry vision ensued, I stuffed my face with cookies, munchkins (the donut holes, not the little people from the Wizard of Oz), chili, and the tastiest hot chocolate I've ever had dispensed from a water cooler.  I slammed 3 cups back and tried to regain my strength before hitting the ride home.

9 miles on the day and another snowshoe race down....One step closer to Spring.

Next weekend is the Madbury night race down at Kingman Farm.  I'm thinking the conditions are going to be insane and the open fields are going to be fun.  I just started charging my headlamp so it will be nice and bright by the time the race goes off.

Strava Data:

Friday, February 20, 2015

February 20 (Friday)

February 20 (Friday) - Nice and easy 10 'miler' on the treadmill tonight after work. No less.

Just a reminder to anyone who hasn't already signed up early (via an invite)... the Mount Washington Road Race Lottery registration is now open (it opened a couple days ago)... Lottery registration closes at 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, March 17th, 2015.  Make sure you don't wait until it's too late (ahem, Josh Ferenc) to get your name in.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February 19 (Thursday)

February 19 (Thursday) - Another snowstorm rolled through town yesterday and then it snowed like crazy this afternoon.  It's starting to look like Worcester out there (minus all the stink).  10 miles at lunch on the treadmill at the Mill nice and easy.  Then later on, another 6 miles on the mill.  16 miles on the day.

Throwback Thursday: Here's a result for you... The St. Charles Children's Home 5k in Portsmouth, NH from 2009.

Notice who was 3rd and who was 9th.  9th place was just an 'average guy with exceptional hair'...  Eric (spelled wrong in the results) Jenkins from Portsmouth... Who now runs for the University of Oregon and is a bonafide stud.  He ran a 7:44.91 this past weekend in the 3k, which was just off the American Collegiate Record (owned by Galen Rupp) and puts him currently 2nd in the World this year in that distance and puts him 5th all time in NCAA history.  Pretty incredible.  But back on September 7, 2009, when he was a young 17 year old, I kicked his ass.

Video of the 2009 race (Jenkins is the first person you can see come into frame when the race goes by...wearing his maroon Portsmouth HS singlet.)  There's also some sweet footage of me blowing his doors off at the finish.  But seriously, the kid is a serious talent.  I'm just glad he's way out in Oregon and probably won't waste time running any races I'll be at anymore :)

Video below of Eric and Will Geoghegan being interviewed after the quick 3k this past weekend.  I like Eric's response to the first dumb question of 'Who are you'...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February 18 (Wednesday)

February 18 (Wednesday) - 5 miles easy at lunch on the mill and then a moderate workout after work.  2 mile warmup and then 5 miles in 27:23. Then 2 mile cooldown. Total 9 miles.  14 miles on the day.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 17 (Tuesday)

February 17 (Tuesday) - Was originally going to sneak down to Manchester to run the Fat Tuesday 5k but that plan went out the window the moment I tweaked my back yesterday while shoveling snow. It was super sore and stiff last night on the easy mill run and today when I woke up it was worse.  I tried to massage and roll but it really wasn't getting any better.  Decided to opt out of the race and probably for the best considering it's freezing cold, on possibly slick roads, and at night (not a fan of night races unless it's on snowshoes).  I hit the mill reluctantly for 8 miles after work and didn't do a lunch run as I was on a call (which probably was also for the best).   It wasn't too bad tonight but I want to make sure I don't get any worse.  Called it at 8.

Monday, February 16, 2015

February 16 (Monday)

February 16 (Monday) - 6 miles easy at lunch at the mill.  6 miles even easier at night at the mill.   Tweaked my back shoveling snow this afternoon and the second run was pretty uncomfortable.  Easy 12 miles on the day.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

February 15 (Sunday) - Weekly Wrap Up

February 15 (Sunday) - 6 miles easy on the mill at the end of the day to wrap up the week and have a quasi-day off.  I packed up the miles early in the week and was able to coast to the end.  

I ended the week with 90.7 miles (with a short day at the end as a rest day).  Only got outside once this week but I got the miles in and got a couple of quicker sessions in with no real workout to speak of (the race on Saturday was cancelled due to the weather). I did get in a couple decent longer spins on the treadmill.  I had 3 doubles and a long run of 15 miles and two other 'longish' single sessions on the mill of 13 and 12.  I got in a little backcountry xc skiing as well on Saturday before my run on the mill.  A decent week for sure but wish I had the race under my belt.  It was postponed until 2/28, which still works, so it shouldn't be too big of a deal.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

February 14 (Saturday)

February 14 (Saturday) - Around noon I headed over to the Oliverian Brook Trail to do the East ski loop on my backcountry xc skis.  Did about 2.3 miles ( a little longer than that but I forgot to start my Garmin until a little ways in).  Slow going and snowing pretty heavy the whole time.  There was a nice rail packed out but the snow was super deep and soft.   The Kanc was a mess.

Then after dinner I headed over to the mill in lieu of the Kingman Farm Snowshoe race which was postponed until Feb 28.  I did 12 miles at a decent clip (1:16:18).

Start of the Oliverian Brook Trail (East Loop)

Friday, February 13, 2015

February 13 (Friday)

February 13 (Friday) - The first of 3 'Friday the 13th's' this year (March 13th and November 13th being the other two).  Hit up the mill at lunch for a pedestrian 6 miles very easy.  It was a beautiful brisk day out but I opted for the warmth and solitude of the Mill.  A lady bug flew right into my mouth near the end of the run, during a deep inhale, and slammed right into my uvula.   8.7 miles later on with Kevin Tilton and his fresh new haircut around the streets of Center Conway.  The infamous 'Stark Road Loop' as it's called by the locals and carnies.  Nice and easy.  Cold as a witches t*tty in a brass bra though and the wind didn't make it any better.  It was strange running outside...Even stranger to run after work and have most of it be in actual daylight.  I am loving the longer days...  14.7 miles for the day.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

February 12 (Thursday)

February 12 (Thursday) - 8 miles at lunch at The Mill on the mill nice and easy.  Then later on after work, another 9 miles on the mill at The Mill.  So I do 8 at The Mill on the mill but do 9 on the mill at The Mill.  Got it?

A couple of interviews from this past weekend's double-header thanks to LevelRenner and Eric Narcisi.  His writeup on Saturday's action is here:

Horsehill Snowshoe Race from Saturday:

Moose Mountain Snowshoe Race from Sunday:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

February 11 (Wednesday)

February 11 (Wednesday) - 15 miles on the mill after work in 1:38:45.  Started easy and slowly rolled into it, upping the tempo as I went along.  Last 8 or so miles at 6:15 pace.  36 days until Spring.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February 10 (Tuesday)

February 10 (Tuesday) - 5 miles very easy at lunch on the mill (after shoveling / snowblowing...again) and then 8 miles after work on the mill.  13 miles total.  Nothing to see here....

Monday, February 9, 2015

February 9 (Monday)

February 9 (Monday) - 13 miles on the mill after work nice and easy.  Legs a little sore from the weekend but no real problems.  Didn't get out during lunch because the weather was gross.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

February 8 (Sunday) - Weekly Summary and Moose Mountain Snowshoe Race

February 8 (Sunday) - 2.2 miles warmup (snowshoes) + 3.3 miles (snowshoe race) + 2 miles (roads) cooldown = 7.5 miles total.  Should have /could have done 4-5 junk miles later in the day to get 80  miles for the week but it was snowing, I was tired, and I had children to play and a family to enlighten and entertain so I opted to watch My Little Pony and Peppa Pig for a few hours instead ;).  Plus I am extremely lazy.  I think if I'm 70+ I'm in good shape...especially on weeks where I race twice.  If I'm between 75-85 I'm considering that where I want to be ideally. If I'm over 85, that's a little in the red zone for me as far as getting worn down or having something start to act up, so I was right in the sweet spot this week.

I ended with just over 75 miles for the week (5 days on the treadmill) and had 2 nice back-to-back snowshoe wins in the Granite State Snowshoe Series. I only did 1 'double' this week so that was actually pretty good considering.  I had an OK workout on the mill (by 'OK' I basically mean that I actually did a workout instead of not doing one).  I also had two 12 mile individual runs (slow but still) on the mill as well. I knew I was going to double in the races this weekend so I didn't want to kill myself before the weekend began.  Next week will be probably just the Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe race in Madbury, NH.

The start of the 2nd Annual Moose Mountain Run Around Snowshoe Race

On Sunday morning I headed down to Brookfield in the morning for the 2nd Annual Moose Mountain Run Around Snowshoe Race (results) on pretty snowy and slow roads.  Route 16 was completely covered and had just a set of tire tracks to ride in.  The secondary roads were far worse.  It was a slow trip down and by the time I got down there, it was really snowing pretty good. I was hoping it would snow hard during the race as it's always fun to actually snowshoe race when it's snowing out (it hasn't really happened a lot).

This was the second annual race but first time the race has been part of the Granite State Snowshoe Series.   I won this race last year and really enjoyed it, even though only 28 strong showed up.  Moose Mountain is a great place to have a race and it's great that Dan Coons (RD) got in there to start this up.  The location is perfect as it's centrally located (45+ minutes closer than Conway for a lot of folks coming from the south).  It's a former ski area (closed in the late 1980s) and now operates as a snow tubing park and has frisbee golf and some other events.  It is also a hub for snowmobile activity in the area as there are trails that dump right out into the parking lot.  It has a gigantic parking area, nice indoor facility with bathrooms, snack bar, etc.  It also has a ton of things to choose from with regards to the course.  There are miles of ski trails and single track and snowmobile trails, etc. in the area.  The current course is a great mix of fields, single track, snowmobile trail, and some of the base of the mountain.  It could (in the future) incorporate some of the ski slopes but for now, the roughly 3.3-2.5 mile course stays down near the bottom with some decent climbs but nothing crazy tough.  The footing though (for the last 2 years) has made it a grind.  The field area, single track, and even the snowmobile trails have been soft/loose and slow.

The fact that this race was supposed to be in early January but was postponed because of weather until today, coupled with the nasty weather, led to another small field.  If this race was held as the first race of the year and first race of the series, I but the field would have been pretty large. But the stars didn't align for this one this year and only 33 people braved the elements to make the drive over to toe the line.

I warmed up with Leslie over the second big loop of the course, on snowshoes.  The big loop of snowmobile trail and single track was about 2.2 miles and the first mile loop through the fields and up part of the mountain was about a mile.  The weather was very cold and the snow was loose and slow but didn't seem as bad as yesterday.  Again, I wanted to check out the part of the course I thought may be slow conditions-wise and I'm glad we did.  There's a single descent off of the snowmobile trail climb, that is epic.  The rail that was carved out by Dan laying down the course, was DEEP.  It was going to make the drop down through there pretty treacherous.  I had an idea that I would play it relatively safe through there and hopefully, that was late enough in the race where I could be in there alone.

Eric Narcisi (CMS/Level) made the drive up from MA and Andrew Drummond (Conway) was there as well.  Andy was right behind me at the Madison Thanksgiving Race and works part time as a Strava-Segment-Stealer.  Any time I run something in Madison/Conway/ or off the Kanc, he makes it a point to go over and destroy the segments.  So I knew he'd be up there as well.  He had done the Bretton Woods Triathlon the day before so we were both a little tired, but I think he was probably feeling it more than I was.

Coming down the mountain...
As the race went off, I headed out a little easy as I knew the fields we had to track across were slow.  That first mile is a grind. It's slow and has a single-track climb up part of the mountain that just zaps the life out of your lungs and legs.  It's not long, but it's a grind on soft single track.  I was followed closely for a bit by acidotic's Garrison Parker until Eric moved into 2nd before the climb.  I had maybe 100 yards or so on Eric by the time I came down through the first mile or so and past the start/finish.  My hands and face were killing me as I pushed on into the snowmobile trails.  The section of snowmobile trails were slightly up for a while and then there was a decent little climb up to the single track section that drops down down down.  There were a couple of small single track sections mixed into the way up but it was mostly very runnable snowmobile trail.

Once I hit the single track descent, I made the conscious decision to focus on staying on my feet and not going crazy.  I had peeked back before taking the turn and didn't see Eric any more.  Eric was in sight at the beginning of the snowmobile trail but not by the time I took the turn.  I kept clipping my snowshoe on the steep sidewall of the rail and almost wiping out.  There were a couple close calls with the trees on the way down and it was really dangerous if you really tried to bomb down.  I kept it in control and figured I'd be faster in the end if I didn't have to pick myself up out of the deep snow a couple times.  Once at the bottom, I hit the snowmobile trails for a 600 or so yard trip back to the finish.  I crossed the street, passed Chris Dunn who was in there taking pictures, and popped back out into the parking area.  The last little climb up the mountain a little and over to the finish was an energy zapper.  The snow was all over the place and there was no real good path to pick so I was weaving all over the joint.  I came through about 2:45 up on Eric who battled with Andy over the last bit of the course.

About a mile in, on the way down and across the base of the mountain
I was very pleased with the effort here as it felt controlled and I didn't feel like I was in total distress at all during the race.  I was working pretty hard but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be.  I got about 3 hours of sleep the night before and was very nervous about my energy level during the race. I even carried a gel with me but didn't need it.  This was my second win of the weekend, 3rd snowshoe win in a row, 3rd win of the series, and 4th win in a row overall in NH this year (counting Derry).  Legs and body feel great.  I'm not really sure if I'm 'fast' but I feel decently strong right now.  It's tough to tell if you are fast in these types of races... but I'll know soon enough.

Top 10 Overall  (CMS in Blue):

125:396:54Jim Johnson     CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS37Madison NH      
228:247:38Eric Narcisi    CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS35North Andover MA
328:427:43Andrew Drummond                       33Ctr Conway NH   
430:328:13Garrison Parker ACIDOTIC RACING       28Melrose MA      
532:198:42Jonathn Miller                        45Sanbornville NH 
632:288:44Jeff Litchfield ACIDOTIC RACING       55Concord NH      
732:348:46Leslie O'Dell   ACIDOTIC RACING       38Albany NH       
832:538:51Justin Beaudry  ACIDOTIC RACING       33New Boston NH   
933:158:57Ken Wiley       ACIDOTIC RACING       32Claremont NH    
1033:469:05John Carton     48Newmarket NH    

33 Total Finishers.

Strava Data:

The 2 mile cooldown was reluctantly done on the snow covered roads near the base of the mountain (out and back) with Leslie and Eric.  It was very cold, snowy, and the chili, soup, and coffee back at the lodge smelled and looked too good to miss so we did a short cooldown and headed back in for the awards.

Dan did a great job with this one again and I am really hoping this race takes off.  It has the potential of being one of the biggest and best events if the stars align.

Also 2 for 2 this weekend w/ the women's winner Leslie O'Dell who won both Horsehill and Moose Mountain.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

February 7 (Saturday) - Horsehill Snowshoe Race

February 7 (Saturday) - 3.6 miles (snowshoes) warmup + 3.5 miles (snowshoe race) + 3.2 miles (roads) cooldown = 10.3 miles total on the day.  I headed down to Merrimack, NH for my 6th Horse Hill Snowshoe Race (results).  I won this race 4 times previously (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013) and was 3rd last year in a very deep and talented field.  I skipped the race in 2012 as I was hurt and the weather was really awful (freezing rain, etc).  The course has changed slightly over the years as there is always some varying snow cover but the last couple years have been really good.  Mike Amarello does a great job putting this event on right in his backyard (literally).  Last year's race featured almost entirely single track and this year's course was basically the same with a slightly modified loop.

Near the end on the FAST section of trail.
The turnout was pretty good (just shy of 100 people) on a relatively 'warm' day.  Last year it was so cold that today's teens felt balmy.  I did the course ahead of time with Chris Mahoney for a warmup.  Chris was there for his second ever snowshoe race.  His first was some years ago over at Feelgood Farm and that would have been enough to make anyone do a 'one and done'.  But he mulled it over for about 4 years or so and decided to give it another go.   I wanted to inspect the course and know what I was getting into. I think it was worth it to do a 41+ minute warmup on the course so I knew what to expect.

There were some other folks there as well that were looking to run 'quick' on the mash potato single track.   Chad Carr and Eric Narcisi were both hungry for a podium spot so I knew it would probably be a train of at least 4 if not more for a lot of the single track.

As the gun went off, I settled right into the front but didn't want to go crazy. I had made the decision to ease into this one and not go all 'Judson Cake' at the beginning (eluding to the first 200 meter all-out battle we had with each other at this race back a bunch of years ago).  I made it to the turn into single track, slightly ahead of the train of 2-5 or so.  By the time the first real hill was reached, I had a decent pad on the field and just continued to push. I kept it safe on the single track but knew that if I just continued to push as I was doing, I wouldn't lose anything on the field.  The miles clicked by VERY slowly.  The course has a lot of ups and downs and is all single track.  Even the more open 'double track' trails and small snowmobile sections had only a thin tracked out path to run in.  The sides of the track were high in spots because the snow was deep.

At one of the junctions were you go past where you come out, I took a wrong turn for a few seconds and quickly realized I was going the wrong way.  I saw the flags on the left and knew I had made a mistake.  I turned and went back before I spent any real time on the wrong trail.  By the time I reached the left hand turn onto the real ugly single track (that only Mike Amarello had tracked out before the race), I had a really good lead. I couldn't really see anyone behind me.  But the further up you climb, the race starts to switch back on itself and you get a really good occasional view of others through the woods.  I started to see how the race was playing out behind me.  I saw that Chris was in second and the places were beginning to spread apart a little bit.  Damon Gannon (3rd last week at Beaver Brook) was in second for a while initially and then Chris and Chad had gone around him at some point near the rough single track start and now things were beginning to play out.

It seemed like an eternity on that really slow single track climb and the mile splits were incredibly slow.  I hit the trail that we loop back on (and the junction I had mistakenly taken initially) and I realized that the once the field had gone through there, the snow was now really loose and eaten up.  The way back was really slick.  I kept slipping and sliding on the corners and slopes and I face-planted once on the last climb.  Finally I made it up and over the top, peeked behind again to see what the situation was, and knew at that point on the final way down that last steep hill, that I was probably in good shape.  I passed by Chris Dunn about a quarter mile from the finish and then took that last turn out onto the main trail and back to the finish.  I came through in 32:11 and was nearly 3 minutes up on 2nd place.  Chris was 2nd and Chad and Damon broke up the CMS sweep by pulling away from Eric down the stretch.

I cooled down with the same crew on the snowy roads around Merrimack.  It felt great to get my second win this season on the snow (third win in total in NH on the calendar year) and win my 5th race here at Horse Hill in 6 tries.

Now on to the second race in the weekend doubleheader... The Moose Mountain Run-Around in Brookfield, NH (was rescheduled) tomorrow.

Top 10 (CMS in blue):

132:11 8:40Jim Johnson        CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS  37Madison NH       
235:08 9:27Chris Mahoney      CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS  37Westford MA      
335:44 9:37Chad Carr          CAMBRIDGE RUNNING CLUB 39Cambridge MA     
437:2910:05Damon Gannon                              46Topsham ME       
538:3810:23Eric Narcisi       CENTRAL MASS STRIDERS  35North Andover MA 
640:2310:52Marek Telus        ACIDOTIC RACING        38Hopkinton NH     
740:2710:53Jeffrey Litchfield ACIDOTIC RACING        55Concord NH       
840:4910:59Derek Burton       THE SWEETIE PIES       22Sanbornton NH    
941:1611:06Leslie O'Dell      ACIDOTIC RACING        38Albany NH        
1042:5611:33David LoutzenheiserCAMBRIDGE RUNNING CLUB 48Cambridge MA     

96 Total Finishers

Strava Data:

After the race, it was off to do some sledding in Conway with Tabby Rose, Morgan Sage, and Kris.  Morgan didn't really do any sledding as she's still kinda everything... but Tabby and I did rip about 12-15 runs on both the snowtube and her plastic sled.  Exhausting having to hoof her back up the hill each time in deep snow, but definitely fun.

Friday, February 6, 2015

February 6 (Friday)

February 6 (Friday) - Opted for only 1 run today so I did a nice easy 8 miles on the mill kind of late.  Had to wait nearly 20 minutes for a couple of walkers to finish doing whatever it is they do on the treadmill.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

February 5 (Thursday)

February 5 (Thursday) - 12 miles at the mill on the mill after work.  Easy.

More quotes from my celebrity interview with the legendary Bob Wiles:

When people first become aware of my staggering body of work as a runner they always want to know what my racing strategy or philosophy is. I always tell them that for me, racing is like sex: Try to start really hard and always finish before the women....Just a personal philosophy that has served me well on the roads and well, frankly not too well in the ol' stabbin cabin. - Bob Wiles 2015.

Also in celebration of TBT, here's the author of that quote above, in his earliest celebration pose:

circa 1981

2010 - Dover, NH

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

February 4 (Wednesday)

February 4 (Wednesday) - Again no morning or lunch run.  Decided to just go once again and get the workout in.  12 miles on the mill with a workout in the middle.  4 miles very easy as a warm up...Then 8 miles in 49:45 that was made up of 6 x 800 at 5min pace (the mill only goes 12mph max).  1 min. in between each at around 7:30 pace and then an extended cooldown. 12 miles in 1:21:45.

Top 3 at Beaver Brook this past weekend.... Thanks to EJN for the pic!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

February 3 (Tuesday)

February 3 (Tuesday) - No morning or afternoon run.  Waited until after work and banged 12 miles on the mill.  The place was jammed packed.  This is the fourth sentence.  Trying for a third line in this entry...and here it is.  Now it is long enough to post.

Monday, February 2, 2015

February 2 (Monday)

February 2 (Monday) - 6 miles in the am because I was up super early with Tabby. She decided that at 3:15am she wanted to wake up screaming to watch My Little Pony - Twinkle Wish Adventure for the 150th time in the last week.  I went downstairs with her and we watched it.  5 times.  Finally at near 7am we were still watching TV so I decided it was time for a morning run (also because I was going to be booked at lunch with a work call).   Then 8 miles later after work.    14 on the day.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 1 (Sunday) - Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race and Weekly Summary

February 1 (Sunday) - I had originally thought that the Beaver Brook Snowshoe Race (results) was on Saturday (it was rescheduled a month or so ago) so I was really a little disappointed in having to wait until Sunday as I had other potential plans, but I headed the 2+ hours down to Hollis in the am for my 6th time running a snowshoe race at Beaver Brook.  I've run 5 'series' versions of the race and one non-series 'winter 5k snowshoe race' version.  I've been lucky enough to have won every time.

2009 (blog) - 1st of 27 (this was a non-GSSS series race in December) - out and back course
2010 (blog) - 1st of 90 - out and back course
2011 (blog) - 1st of 91 - longer looping course
2012 (cancelled)
2013 (blog) - 1st of 98 - longer looping course
2014 (blog) - 1st of 75 - out and back course
2015 (you are reading it) - 1st of 86 - out and back course

This year, it was again an out and back course which makes the course very short.  There was too much snow to make a nice looping course on a lot of the other trails in the preserve with the amount of time the RD had to set it, so they had to make it a straight out and back again.  I loved the other version of this course we had in 2011/2013.  The out and back was way too short in my opinion (especially for the cost and the drive).  For the 4+ hours in the car, I got just under 18 minutes of racing in.  Thankfully because I won the series the year before, I didn't have to pay for this one...30 bucks for a 2+ mile out and back is a lot.  The RD does put a ton of great work into good timing/results, good prizes, shirts, etc.  He's always done that... if this race was a longer, maybe similar version of the other course, it may be worth it....but it's tough to justify the ride and cost for me to go all the way down there.  Also, Mikes famous(ly awesome) Kale soup was NOT on the menu!  It was a chicken noodle or something. It was still delicious...but one of the justifications I had for going all the way down there was the Kale soup.

The course was also really slow going for about half of it because of the snow conditions.  It did have a single out and back rail to run on (the rest was deep snow), but the one on the right (left on the way back) was really soft.  You really could only run on one side.  On the way out, that was fine.  On the way back, as you run against a ton of other people coming at you, you start to realize that it got even worse than the other side, with all the foot traffic digging it up.  Needless to say, the way back was a grind.  The RD added a small single track section to the course but it basically paralleled the main trail so it didn't really add any distance to the out and back.  That section was slow to begin with, so the way back was even worse in there.  Plus that was really the only 'climb' on the course.

I took off from the gun, with my teammate Eric Narcisi close behind me.  The start was on a single rail and basically single file for the most part.  Eric let me have the front and he stayed right with me for most of the race.  He kept me in sight and I didn't have much on him on the turnaround.  The course goes straight down about 1.4-ish miles and then turns around a cone and comes straight back.  I really felt zonked on the way back but managed to hold a lead and came through in 17:57 (not quite a minute up on Eric who was 2nd).

That's basically all I can say about this one.  It was straight out and straight back.  Lots of snow.  I managed to win, which is always nice nowadays, I ran under 18 minutes total, and I was almost 4.5 hours in the car total.

I warmed up 2.3 miles, raced for '3 miles', and cooled down for 2 miles.  7.3 miles total.

Wrap Up - Week of January 26 - Feb 1:

Lower week (considering) because of the storm and a couple of missteps on my part.  Still hit 70+ miles but since 8 of my last 9 weeks have been 80+, I was a little disappointed.  I was planning 2 races and because of the re-scheduling, I could only get one in.  I would have done a workout mid-week if I knew that.  I didn't even have a double-digit single run this week but had a few decent double sessions with some easy miles.  Still not sure how much more I want to snowshoe race... Just looking forward to spring and some real road/trail/mountain running.  Right now, I'm getting outside once a week if I'm lucky and I'm ok with that, but my hill work is suffering a little bit.  I just have no patience for the cold and snow and ice and all the winter bulls*t.

Miles: 71.3
Runs: 12
Races: 1
Longest Run: 9.5
Climbing: 449 (all on Sunday)
Total Time: 8:53:00

Monday: 4 miles on snowy/icy Conway roads with Kevin Tilton. (32:18)
Tuesday: 8 miles on the treadmill (60:00).
Wednesday: AM: 9.5 miles on the treadmill (60:00). PM: 8.5 miles on the treadmill (60:00).
Thursday: AM: 8 miles on the treadmill (60:00). PM: 8 miles on the treadmill (60:00).
Friday: AM: 6 miles on the treadmill (48:00). PM: 6 miles on the treadmill (48:00).
Saturday: 6 miles on the treadmill (45:00)
Sunday: 2.3 mile w/up + 3 mile race + 2 mile cooldown with Eric. All on snowshoes.