Sunday, January 31, 2016

Week of January 25 - January 31

Week of January 25 - January 31

January 25 (Monday) - PM: 8.4 miles easy roads/dirt roads w/ Andy. Leg sore but tolerable.
January 26 (Tuesday) - PM: 10.3 miles relatively steady on the roads and 18th century brick sidewalks.  Beautiful 50 degrees in Portsmouth.  Did the Market Square Day 10k course and then and out and back over into New Castle.  2x Marcy St. practicing for June.
January 27 (Wednesday) - AM: 5 miles  easy roads.  PM: 8 miles easy roads w/ Andy.
January 28 (Thursday) - AM: 5 miles  easy.  PM: 10.2 miles as 1 mile w/ up + 8 miles at 6:30 pace but through the level 10 hill circuit + 1 mile cooldown.  On and off every minute.  1.5 % 'rest' and 4.5/5.5/6.5/7.8% alternating every other minute.  Kept everything at 6:30 pace so the 6.5 and 7.8 grade was a 8 miles I was almost falling off the back.  Good workout without the banging of quick intervals on the mill.
January 29 (Friday) - AM: 5 miles easy. PM: 10 miles.
January 30 (Saturday) - PM: 8.1 miles.
January 31 (Sunday) - PM: 15 miles in NoCo. From Ranger Station on the Kanc, out on West Side Rd.  Out and back up to Echo Lake (Old West Side loop) and back. 1:35:43.  Last few miles into the 5:40s.

Weekly Summary: 85 miles for the week.    278.9 miles for the month of January with 3 days off.  WAY behind my 351.2 total miles of last January (where I only missed 1 day)...  The long term goal though is to not go down for months at a time this year, so I should catch up and surpass last year's totals if I stay 'healthy'...IF.

Leg started out sore but got out early in the week for some road running which seemed to help.  Went down to MA on Tuesday to visit my high school coach (Deke) who was in the hospital.  Spent a couple hours sitting with him  and reminiscing about all the great running he did in his time and all the great runners he's known and coached over the last 88 years... On the way home I hit up the seacoast for an ad-hoc road run in Portsmouth and New Castle.  I felt really good despite a little bit of leg discomfort.  It was awesome getting out on the neighborhood roads in really mild temps for mid winter. I had a decent couple of easy road runs mid week and a few treadmill runs including a hill workout on Thursday which was a solid effort surprisingly.  After a few more runs (and because the Beaver Brook snowshoe race was postponed due to no snow) I ended the week with a solid out and back road run in Conway on a nice flat section of the WMM Half course.  Legs felt surprisingly good by the end of the week.  It almost seems like the more I run, the better they feel... who would have thought?  ....We'll see how long that lasts.

Me and Coach Deke a bunch of years back at Great Island...

Monday, January 25, 2016

SIX03 Frigid 5k Snowshoe Race

Eric Narcisi, JJ, and Scott Mitchell
On Sunday I headed down with the Johnson girls to Barrington, NH for the SIX03 Frigid 5k Snowshoe Race (results).  It was a non-series snowshoe race but you'd never know it.  Lots of familiar faces for the main snowshoe clubs were in the house.  With Saturday's race cancelled, this was a good spot for the SIX03 race for sure.

The weather was more suited for a Whitaker race (in the single digits) than anything else, but it was the place to be this weekend for NH snowshoeing.  There was beautiful bright sunshine and clear skies but it was as cold as you can expect.  After a relatively short warmup on the roads around the golf course with Eric Narcisi, I ended up strapping on the Dions for a few strides at the start of the course.  The race was held at the Nippo Lake Golf Course which is as hilly of a golf course as I've seen.  I was pretty amazed at the drop in the first mile and the climbs during the second.  The course was sprawling on both sides of the street with snow shoveled onto the road a-la Sidehiller to cross from one side of the course to the other.

The race started off on a nice downhill and after only a few steps I felt multiple places in my right leg start to ache. I was very nervous on the way down, that pounding and off-camber running would irritate it to the breaking point (on pun intended).  I settled in at the bottom with Eric pretty close behind.  I felt a little gassed as we started to weave all over the lower part of the course but the main reason I think is because of the snow conditions.  It was loose snow a couple inches deep that you were constantly mixing up and crunching through if you weren't lucky enough to step right in some previous snowshoe tracks from the people setting the course.  Very little of the course was completely without some sort of slow patches of loose or slightly deeper snow so it was slow going in spots but OK in others.  Overall it was in the middle as far as conditions go.  If you were used to groomed trails, this one felt a little tough.

The wind had blown some parts of the course bare and piled deeper snow in others.  The second mile featured a nice long climb back up to the top near the clubhouse.  It was actually 2 climbs with a slight recovery in the middle, but the loose snow made it a lot tougher than it would have been otherwise.  I continued to pull away from Eric as the race progressed but felt slow mostly because of the footing.

Somewhere during the second mile we crossed the road with Tom and Chris standing there (Tom had been shoveling snow onto the road for the crossing).  I crossed over and immediately took a left by mistake.  I should have gone right/straight where Chris was standing.  After a few moments I heard both of them yell and I turned to realize I was going the wrong way. I think Eric did the same thing when he got there.  There was a sign but we both missed it.

The entire opposite side of the course is flat but had some slow spots here and there.  It reminded me a little of the upper fields at the old Sidehiller course....meandering along and through a couple old stone walls and occasionally hitting deeper drifts with crunchy, sloppy snow that had been broken through by the course flaggers.  Nothing was 'groomed' or packed down other than footprints.  There was some confusion with Eric and I at one part of the course (late) where there was no marshall (Tim Cox got there just after Eric and I had already gone through).  There were two ways to go and we went the opposite way instead of this smaller loop on the left side but it didn't really affect the outcome.  We did run a tad shorter going the other way but it was through no fault of our own.  The flagging being 'on the left' the entire time made sense to go the way I chose when I got to that fork...but being the golf course and a sprawling, wide open course, it all depended on how wide you took the turn and what side of the flags you went on.  It would have made sense if it was single track or a road or obvious 'route' but in the middle of a fairway, it was difficult to tell...and with no one there just yet and no arrows or signs, it was a guessing game for me.  Tim came up to me after the race and told me he had gotten there a tad late.  He was obviously too occupied watching his young son (a national record holder) destroy most of the field in his first snowshoe race...(the kid finished 5th at the age of 10!!).

After finishing the outer loop of the top part of the course, we crossed the street again in the same spot and I headed down a bit before climbing back up one last time.  The end had one last push up a small hill on a cart path that had a lot of bare spots and thick ice.  The wind did a number on some of the areas of the course for sure and this was the thinnest spot up on the hill by the finish.  I came through in 20:32 and was lucky enough to get through it without any major issues.  I had one small calf issue around 2.5 miles but it was a quick stab and then it was gone.

I cooled down a short couple miles with Eric, Leslie, and Scott Mitchell who came through in 3rd, behind Eric, to round out the podium.

After the race, there was a nice get together inside with some music and food.  My girls danced around a bit before the awards.  For the win I got a nice gold plated (OK gold 'painted') shovel and a bag of Six03 swag including a pretty cool belt buckle.

Video from Kristin who braved the cold and the wind: 

The Start:

Some footage of the far side of the course:

Me finishing:

Eric finishing in second (and in style):

And some more finishers:

The Three Shovelteers again...

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Week of January 18 - January 24

Another pic from last weekend's Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble in the Daily Sun this week.

Week of January 18 - January 24

January 18 (Monday) - AM: 5 miles easy.  Hobbling at first and just decided to run through the pain and see if it loosened up.  At 3 miles, it actually did.  Last 2 miles were actually ok.  PM:  5 miles a little quicker than I wanted.  Got to the Mill late and forgot when they closed.  It was an hour earlier than I thought. Maybe it was for the best.  Only was able to fit in 5 more before they turned the lights off.  Really hobbling for first couple miles.
January 19 (Tuesday) - AM: 5 miles easy.  PM: 8 miles. Achilles slightly better but still sore.  Calf super sore. What's else is new... Put off the workout until later in the week.
January 20 (Wednesday) - PM: 8 miles. Everything sore. I feel like I'm turning to stone.
January 21 (Thursday) - AM: 5 miles easy. PM: 10 miles workout.  5 x 1000 @ 5 min pace with 1:20-1:30 rest continuous between each.  Split 16:50 for the 5k and 21:50 exactly for 4 miles.  Solid workout and I felt surprisingly fine physically.  Then 3 mile cooldown.  68:20 for the 10 miles including rest and warmup/cooldown.
January 22 (Friday) - AM: 5 miles easy.  PM: 9 miles slightly up tempo.
January 23 (Saturday) - PM: 5 miles easy.
January 24 (Sunday) - AM: 7 miles as: 2 mile warmup (roads/snowshoes) + 5k race (Six03 Frigid 5k Snowshoe Race - 1st OA) + 2 mile cooldown on the road.

Weekly Summary: 72 miles for the week.

Wow I felt like trash the first half of the week.  I barely made it through but turned the corner on Thursday and then back to bad again on Sunday.  The Achilles was bad at first, loosened up, and then by week's end it was bad again as was my shin and calf.  It was a mixed bag of what hurts now.  I did manage to squeak a good workout in but went too hard the day after, which led to the harsh weekend.  I hobbled on Saturday but it was the day before the snowshoe race down in Barrington, NH so it wasn't that big of a deal.  But the race beat me up a bit and made things worse. I had lingering issues during the race and certainly now am dealing with them after.  I'll do a quick writeup of this one as a separate race recap post.

Unfortunately the GSSS race on Saturday (Moose Mountain) was cancelled even though certainly there was enough snow to run on.  There was a fat bike race that was added to the event couldn't be held because of too much ice under the snow or some thing, so they had to postpone both to Feb 6.  Now the race has to be held the day before Horsehill, which is part of the ATR series.  A lot of fast guys are going to be showing up to Horsehill just for the ATR series and now I have to make a decision to stay home and miss a GSSS race on Saturday, just to have a better shot at running with some quicker guys on Sunday, or go to both and be spent on Sunday and get my doors blown off even more than I would already.  Not ideal but it is what it is.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Race

Thursday's front page of the Conway Daily Sun

Saturday was my 6th time racing the Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Race (results) in North Conway.  It is usually one of the first races I do in the calendar year and this year it was my first race since the WMM Half back in October.  I haven't been exactly killing it with training but I've run Whitaker in far worse shape in the past, so I wasn't about to miss this one if I could help it...being only 15 minutes down the road.  Like usual, it was the kickoff to the Granite State Snowshoe Series.

The temps were unseasonably warm for Whitaker (in the high 20s) and it was snowing out pretty good which is always really cool for a snowshoe event.  I had the kids and Kristin in tow for this one and it was cool for them to be there to see their first snowshoe race.  Kristin hasn't been to a snowshoe race in ages... I think the last time she was at a race, Sidehiller was still a thing.

I warmed up with Chris Mahoney who was at Whitaker for the first time to give it a go. We checked out the first mile + of the course and went up the 'big' climb so he could scope it out and know what to expect.  We caught up with Andy Drummond who was on his way up the climb with Squall.  I got in about 2.5 miles of warmup all on the snowshoes.  It was my first time in the Dions since last March.  That may not have been a great idea in hindsight.

I figured before the gun went off I'd have my hands full with Chris who's been running well this year and who is always a threat in any race from the 100 meters up to his trail marathon prowess.  Eric Narcisi is also running and training well and I figured possibly that would be the top 3 but in virtually any order.  Andy Drummond would have been my pick for the wildcard to take one of the top spots.

The race went off and my plan was to run more controlled than I did last year when I was chasing Nacho.  I had gone out way too hard and paid for it later.  This year I wanted to scale it back a bit and run hard but controlled until I got up the top of the first climb.    I got out well and kept it relatively calm to the hill and then pushed up the long climb without redlining.  I managed to put a little distance on Eric and Chris who were still within striking distance at the base but by the top I was moving ahead more and more and feeling like I was keeping the effort nice and even.

There's a little break of downhill on single track before pushing back up the second set of hills in the second mile and I had a decent lead.  I hit the second set of hills which are the same hills that are in the Whitaker Trail Series 5k that is run weekly on Tuesday nights in the Summer, so I know them well.  They are a kick in the pants, especially on snowshoes.  The break you have between the first long climb and the second set of smaller hills is too short to really recover all the way.  By the time I was at the top of the second climb, I was feeling a little burn but still feeling like I could keep up the effort from there and be alright.

The next bit of the course is another section down and over to the powerlines, that I'm familiar wth in the summer trail series.  At that point it changes a little bit and heads down the powerlines to a small looped single track section that was in decent shape.  I could see Eric and Chris back a ways on the long straight powerline section but once I got into the single track, I was alone again and out of view until I popped back out and looped around a small out and back section on the powerline trail.  There, I saw Eric pop out across the trail as I was about to head back into the woods on the other side.  He yelled over something corny like 'Your the winner Jimmy' or some random sandbagging jibberish...I took that as confirmation that he was just trying to hold off Chris who had yet to pop out of the woods, for 2nd place.

I pushed on the last mile or so over the lower, flatter trails that we typically run in the summer series and had no thoughts at all about being caught.  I wasn't laboring at all cardio-wise and felt really good about the effort. Eventually I pushed out into the last loop around the ball field and to the finish in 26:29.  Kristin was busy with the kids in the car and they missed the finish unfortunately.

Eric came through about 90 seconds or so back for second place and a strong showing in the first race of the season.  I have a feeling Eric is going to take a win or two this year on the circuit when he stops sandbagging...  Chris wasn't too far back in 3rd.  I was surprised to see Andy standing there when I finished.  He had a mechanical about 2 minutes in and blew a shoe in the first quarter mile or so.  Good thing he didn't drive too far to get there.

A snowshoe cooldown of sorts was had with Chris and the Narcisi brothers, over a couple miles of the course in the reverse direction.

LevelRenner recap here.

Race splits: 6:51 / 7:07 / 6:24 / 6:06 for last .9.

For the win I got a $40 gift cert to Moat Mountain, a nice pullover fleece, and some baked goods that barely survived the trip home with my wife and 2 daughters all having a legit sweet tooth.

Snow conditions and slight changes in race course that may have happened aside, my time this year was substantially slower than last year but I do remember it running a bit faster last year on the groomed sections.  I've run 2 times faster than this year and 3 times slower. One of the faster times was definitely on a slightly shorter course in 2014.  In 2011-2013 it was advertised as 4 miles but it may have been a little short...possibly in the range of this years' course.  Similar to trail races, snowshoe races are never really exact anyways...

My Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Scramble history:

2016 - 1st of 77 (3.9 Miles on my Garmin) - 26:29 - Eric Narcisi 2nd + 1:28 gap
2015 - 2nd of 109 (3.9 Miles on my Garmin) - 25:17 - Nacho Hernando 1st - :28 gap
2014 - 2nd of 75 (3.5 Miles on my Garmin) - 23:16 - Nick Wheeler 1st - 1:12 gap
2013 - 1st of 74 (~ 4 Garmin) - 26:56 - Dave Dunham 2nd + 2:14 gap
2012 - 1st of 40 (~ 4 Garmin) - 27:27 - Judson Cake 2nd + :58 gap
2011 - 1st of 49 (~ 4 Garmin) - 26:53 - Judson Cake 2nd + 1:07 gap

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week of January 11 - January 17

The fam at Whitaker Woods

Week of January 11 - January 17

January 11 (Monday) AM: 5 miles easy with some walking afterwards.  PM: 9.2 miles relatively easy with Andy up and down to Chocorua Village and back.  Short walk after.  Brisk!
January 12 (Tuesday) AM: 5 miles easy. PM: 10 miles  continuous as 4 mile warmup + 6 x 800 at 5:00 pace with .25 rest in between each + 1.75 mile cooldown. Not terribly hard physically but I haven't run 5:00 pace for anything any time recently so it was good to know it's there.   Going that hard does seem a little jarring on the legs right now, but it was a good test to see how they handle the pounding and the increased mileage.  I did this same workout exactly 1 year ago today but I did a slightly shorter rest in between each 800 then. I didn't want to go overboard with my recent issues so I ran a little slower on my recovery quarters in between this time around.  Good first workout of 2016 despite a little soreness each interval in the lower legs but nothing that prevented me from getting it in.
January 13 (Wednesday) PM: 8 miles easy w/ Andy. Cold!
January 14 (Thursday) AM: 5 miles easy. PM: 10 miles - moderate hill workout just to mix it up and because I forgot my iPod.  8 miles of level 10 hill circuits on the treadmill.  It was 1 min on/off.  The 'offs' were at 1.5 % and the ons were cycling 4.5, 5.5, 6.5, 7.8% and then repeat.  The 1.5% was all at 9mph.  The 4.5/5.5 were also at 9mph and for the 6.5, and 7.8% I scaled back to 8.7mph so it wasn't so bad but all under 7 min pace to keep the legs moving.  Worked up a sweat but it wasn't difficult at all.  A good light workout if nothing else.  2 additional miles as a 'cooldown'.  68:23 for the 10 miles total.
January 15 (Friday) PM: 8 miles easy
January 16 (Saturday) AM: 2.5 mile w/ up on snowshoes over the course with Chris Mahoney and Andy Drummond + Race: Whitaker Woods Snowshoe Race (3.9 miles) - 1st OA. 26:29.  + 2.2 mile cooldown on snowshoes with Chris and the Narcisi brothers.  8.6 miles total, all on the Dion 121s.
January 17 (Sunday) - off (super sore Achilles from the race).  Had college friends visiting from down in MA and my foot was pretty sore all day long.  Planned on getting a run in later in the day after letting it rest but it didn't feel good enough to push on it even for some light miles so I decided it was good to finish up the week with some rest.

Weekly Summary:  68.8 miles for the week.

As noted, the Achilles was destroyed by late on Saturday.  I could barely walk around by late afternoon.  It was killing me all Saturday night and actually kept me up.  I got up super early on Sunday because I couldn't take it anymore and had to get up and ice and stretch.  It took all day to get only slightly better.  It definitely is reacting to the snowshoes and the fact that my first effort at all on them this season was a race.  It probably would have been better if I did at least one other easier run on them before Saturday.  Other than that, it was a good week for a January for sure. Considering how I started off the year, I'll take it.  Three days of doubles and a decent couple of 'workouts' with some ok mileage to start moving in the right direction after having some leg issues.  Started off the racing year on the right foot with a win at Whitaker (my 4th win in 6 years there).  I will probably do a short writeup in a day or so.  It's too bad about having to take Sunday off, but it's actually an ok step to take a rest day after the previous two weeks of only 3 and then 50.  Hopefully by tomorrow I'll be able to get back into some easy miles and salvage a normal week of workouts.

Here's some brief footage of the start of the race...taken from basically 50 feet apart from each other but from two different viewpoints:

Warming up w/ Mike Narcisi and acknowledging my little ones..

Monday, January 11, 2016

RIP Thin White Duke....

Artists like this are few and far between these days, if at all... I was fortunate enough to see him in concert many years ago in Boston...

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week of January 04 - January 10

Week of January 04 - January 10

January 04 (Monday) - AM: 5 miles normal effort with some walking afterwards.  PM: sports massage in NoCo.
January 05 (Tuesday) - PM: 6 miles relatively easy effort with more walking afterwards.
January 06 (Wednesday) - PM: 8 miles easy with more walking afterwards.
January 07 (Thursday) - PM: 10 miles normal effort with some walking afterwards.
January 08 (Friday) - PM: 6 miles easy (hilly) with Andy.  Had a meeting literally right after the run, so couldn't fit the walk in.
January 09 (Saturday) - PM: 7 miles normal effort in snow flurries with some walking afterwards.
January 10 (Sunday) - PM: 8 miles easy with Andy in a tropical storm.

Weekly Summary: 50 miles for the week.  Obviously easy and light on the miles this week but after basically no running last week, I didn't want to jump hard into this week's mileage.  I just wanted to make progress and make sure that if it was an overuse issue I had going on, I didn't further it along.  By weeks end I felt a lot better but not 100% by any means. I still have some pain and stiffness on the right side that is manageable right now but I haven't tested it with hard running just yet.  When I go up on my toes or try to land a tad heavier on the right side, I get throbbing pain and all sorts of bad things happening.  If I just stick to a 'normal' easy running gate, it seems like it's getting better.   I'll try to fit something in 'uptempo' this coming week and we'll see.  I'll also try to get back up into something that resembles real mileage but I'm not too displeased with this week's efforts given the circumstances.

My periodic training partner here on the East Madison Track Club has some good video editing skills... not to mention some skills on skis.   Here's the latest scenes from the MWV...

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Week of December 28 - January 03

Week of December 28 - January 03

December 28 (Monday) - off
December 29 (Tuesday) - off 
December 30 (Wednesday) - off
December 31 (Thursday) - off
January 01 (Friday) - 3 miles very very easy.  I'm surprised cars didn't stop to ask me if I needed a ride, I was running so slow.  Some walking afterwards.
January 02 (Saturday) - off
January 03 (Sunday) off

Weekly Summary: 3 miles for the week.  To quote Bob Wiles from exactly 5 years ago this week.... 'I'm a hot mess'.   I did ride the bike this week, so I wasn't a complete slob on the off days, but I don't count that as really anything.  I may start another blog called 'doublejbiking' if it comes to it.  Boatloads of massage and stretching this week as well.