Sunday, February 28, 2016

Week of February 22 - February 28

Week of February 22 - February 28

February 22 (Monday) - PM: 5 miles easy.
February 23 (Tuesday) - AM: 5 miles easy.  PM: 15 miles as 2.5 m w/up (18:00) + 10 mile tempo (56:38) + 2.5 m c/dwn (20:00).  Felt incredible cardio-wise.  Again, like last week, almost like it wasn't even a workout.  The only thing that bothered me is that my legs are very banged up. That hilly long run and higher week last week was still lingering in my hamstrings and calves.  Normally I would have bailed on the workout tonight, my legs hurt so bad... but I'm kind of done with not doing the work and not being serious, so I sucked it up and got it done without any real issues.  The speed isn't really there yet I don't think, but my strength is good right now.  If I steer clear of trampolines this Spring, I may actually continue to get stronger and may eventually race fast again.
February 24 (Wednesday) - PM:  10 miles.
February 25 (Thursday) - AM: 5 miles.  PM: 10 miles (69:30) with Andy on the roads down near the foot of Silver Lake... with 4 x 1 mile uptempo in the middle.  The first was supposed to be around 6 minutes just to get the legs going... and then the next 3 were supposed to be at 5:30.  Splits ended up being 5:56 / 5:21 / 5:20 / 5:18.  A little over a quarter mile rest in between each (continuous). Then a cooldown back to the car (plus a little add-on).  Felt decent although my legs are definitely feeling Tuesday's effort still.  A tiny amount of headwind on the last mile and sand  covered roads were the only obstacle...otherwise, the neighborhood loop we did was great.  Not one car the entire time.
February 26 (Friday) - AM: 5 miles easy.
February 27 (Saturday) - AM: 10 miles (65:35).
February 28 (Sunday) - PM: 6 miles easy.  Felt really tired so I decided to shorten the run and end the week easy.

Weekly Summary: 71 miles for the week.  Another winter week down, another snowshoe race cancelled (Beaver Brook became a trail race).  The only good news there is that the scoring was adjusted in the series (because of the cancellations) to scale down the 'best 4' to the 'best 3'.  My 3 wins in the GSSS series this year (the only 3 races that were held so far and possibly all winter) got me the series title again (still 'unofficial').  It's my 8th year in a row as Granite State Snowshoe Champion.  With the weekend free from racing, it gave me the ability to get a couple of 'workouts' in (or at least a couple of harder-than-normal efforts) and some ok miles but scaled it back just a little bit.  I want to make it out of the winter unscathed.

In treasure hunting news (believe it or not), I got out for about an hour early in the week, scouting out the yard and woods where the snow was very thin or gone (under some heavy tree cover) and the ground is just too damn frozen obviously.  In the little exposed areas we do have, the top layer is an inch of very soft grass and dirt and then the frost layer is basically from there down and impenetrable.  Despite warm temps and occasional rain, the small parts of the exposed ground are just too frozen.  I did manage to take a few swings in the driveway (which is plowed), where I have NEVER hunted before.  My driveway is hardpacked dirt and gravel so it's impossible to dig even the smallest of hole there when the ground is dry.  I never stopped to think how easy it will be to dig in the driveway during the 'mud season'.  There was a very small patch of mud where we park the cars.  The ground was soft enough to actually dig a little bit more before hitting the frost layer.  I actually got a couple coins within a couple feet of each other in this very small section.  I wasn't sure how 'old' anything would be in the driveway, as it is probably just fill from not too long ago (70s, 80s, etc).  But it was worth a try and was my only option.  I first yanked a 1982 memorial out (copper) and then to my complete shock, a 1909 Wheat cent.  1909 was the first year of the Lincoln penny (first year of the Wheatie).  It was also the last year of the Indian head cent.  They made both in 1909.  The cool thing is that my buddy Kent pulled a 1909 Indian out of my front yard late last summer and I found this 1909 Wheat in the driveway.  That's both 1909 pennies in the yard so far.  Pretty cool.  No visible VDB mark on it though :(.

1909 Wheat Cent.  Was completely covered in a nice green patina but I rubbed most of it off to see the detail and date.

Then midweek we got a bunch more snow....then it warmed up, rain, and melted.  Same old story this winter.  Not enough to free up the solid ground from winter's grasp just yet...but certainly in the next few weeks (short of getting more snow) we should be swingin' n' diggin' with some regularity.  I did a brief additional evaluation in the driveway on Friday afternoon and then again on Sunday and it seemed not much better.  Pulled a bullet and a clad dime out from the softest spots on Friday and then pulled a colonial musket ball out of the edge of the driveway/side yard on Sunday.  That was a pretty cool find. Tons of signals but they are too deep and will have to wait.

Lead colonial musket ball

Solid 10 tempo

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Week of February 15 - February 21

Week of February 15 - February 21

February 15 (Monday) - PM: 10 miles easy.
February 16 (Tuesday) - AM: 5 miles easy.  PM: 10 miles (59:48).  2.5 m w/up (slowly increasing tempo) into a block of 27:30 for 5 miles (5:30 pace) and then an uptempo last 2.5 (cooldown) to sneak in 10 in under 60 min.  Felt really good, almost like it wasn't even a workout.  No issues and the 5:30 pace felt like I could have held for another 5 miles without issue, which is a great sign.
February 17 (Wednesday) - PM: 10 miles. 
February 18 (Thursday) - AM: 5 miles. PM: 6 miles roads (moderately quick as I was not in the mood to run for some reason).
February 19 (Friday) - AM: 5 miles roads. PM: 10 miles roads (69:15) with Andy. Paved and icy dirt roads.
February 20 (Saturday) - PM: 10 miles pretty late in the day.
February 21 (Sunday) - PM: 15.6 miles paved and dirt roads with Andy.  Madison to Maine run + the big Freedom loop. 2700 ft. of climbing on this badboy. Killer loop (but shortened a little from the normal run due to where we parked).  Moderate to easy for most of it. Climbs still hurt though.  Good end to the week.  Officially renaming this loop the 'Off-leash dog loop' due the the unreal amount of loose-ass dogs that roam those roads.

Weekly Summary: 86.6 miles for the week.

No snowshoe race this weekend (Exeter was cancelled)... so I decided just to get runs in because frankly that's just what it takes.  Vitamin M.  Mileage.  Bob Wiles' PED of choice.  Got in a decent moderate workout and a nice 'long' run.  6 runs of 10 or more is a good week for me at this point.  We got a nice six inches or so of new snow on Saturday so it was a great day outside w/ the girls...but Spring is coming for sure.

Tabby striking a pose with her snowman on Saturday

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kingman Farm and Horsehill Snowshoe Races

This past weekend I did an 'old school' double with a pair of Granite State Snowshoe Series races.   The Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race (results) in Madbury, NH was scheduled for Saturday night.  The Horsehill Snowshoe Race (results) in Merrimack, NH was rescheduled for Sunday due to lack of snow from a week ago.   I knew it was going to be a tiring double but I have to get as many GSSS races in as possible as I won't be able to do the last couple.  I have to get my 4 races in so I can compete in the series standings and this winter has definitely not been ideal for snowshoe racing.  The possibility of very dangerous windchills was not enough to cancel either of these races this weekend so I had no other choice was braving the very cold weather for a couple of 3.5-ish mile races on some fast snow.

Kingman Farm Moonlight Snowshoe Race (results)

Saturday night the Madbury race was in full swing.  Over 100 brave souls lined up for the headlamp-lit race in sub zero windchill temps.  Chris Dunn had changed the course a bit to avoid the open fields which would cut down on the windchill exposure.  The wind was obviously not as bad in the woods so the course was shortened a bit but worked pretty well. We still did the same climb and switchback sections so most of the course was still the same.

After a couple very cold miles on the roads as a warmup, I threw on the snowshoes for another mile on the Dions, checking out the first and last sections of the course.   The snow was packed and conditions were excellent.  The last part of the course was a little narrow but still fast.  The first part of the course looked phenomenal. I knew it was going to be fast and seeing my CMS teammate Colin Carroll there only made me realize how quick it was going to need to be.   He was coming off a couple of fast track performances and is fit.  I'm not exactly lighting the world on fire with speed so I was hoping my snowshoe racing experience would help...especially in the dark.  It does add a little complexity to running fast on snowshoes so I was hoping that would lean in my favor.

The race went off quick and I got out as I normally do to try to thin out the pack a little right away.  I tried to run someone else's race only once here and I lost a close one so I know that doesn't work on this course.  Even when Nacho smoked me here a couple years ago, I ran my own race for the first mile before he passed me so I had the same plan this year.  Fortunately by a half mile or so in, I had a decent pad on second place and just kept pushing.  My nagging hamstring wasn't really a factor other than one small twinge early on.

I did most of my pushing for the 2+ miles that weaves all over the single and double-wide trail system before the big switchback climb.  By halfway, I was starting to have big patches of no visible headlamps in my rearview.  Only on very long sections would I see some headlamps through the woods.  That's a great, quick indicator as to how far back someone is.  It's much easier to quickly identify if someone's close.  I did get a little confused on a two-way-traffic section for about 100 meters or so.  I was hoping I wasn't going the wrong way but soon realized I was all set when I saw the big intersection where everyone went wrong last year.  There were people there making sure the runners were going the right way this year.    Once I passed that section I was all set.  It was really cool having a lot more lit ice sculptures all over the course this year.  There seemed to be at least one in view at all times which was really cool looking in the otherwise pitch black.

I rolled up the climb and summited without much issue. I had such a good lead at that point, I wasn't too concerned about being caught.  You can only run so fast on that section as it's constant switchbacks both up and down the climb.  There was a fire at the top which was a cool indicator you were at the summit.  The way back 'down' the other side is actually a good mix of both climbing and dropping down for a bit before a nice switchback drop down to the bottom.  I always forget about the small additional climbs during this section.  I kept pushing forward and by the time I was on the real descent, I knew I had held off any charge from whoever was back in 2nd.

I ended up coming through in just over 23 minutes.  I waited until Colin came through in a very tight finish with 3rd place (they were in full sprint at the end and both leaned for the line).  It was basically a tie but Colin had the slight lean at the end for 2nd.  I then made a mad dash for the inside as I couldn't feel my chin and lower half of my face anymore.

I reluctantly headed out for a 2 mile cooldown on the roads but I was already pretty much as cooled down as I was going to get.  After the awards and raffle (I got shutout of), I hit the road for just over an hour ride back up to the valley.  I had some bigtime laundry to do and didn't get to bed until close to midnight.   I would have to get up at 6am and do it all over again in the morning in even colder weather.

My history at the Kingman Farm Snowshoe Race:

2009 - 1st
2011 - 2nd (2 seconds behind Tilton...won Beaver Brook earlier in the day)
2013 - 1st
2014 - 2nd (13 seconds behind Nacho)
2015 - 1st
2016 - 1st

In 2010 the race was a trail race due to lack of snow so it wasn't part of the series and I opted to race elsewhere.  In 2012 the race was cancelled all together.  I've run it each year it was actually a snowshoe race since 2009.

Horsehill Snowshoe Race (results)

Early on Sunday it was back up and out the door.  I headed down to Merrimack, NH in -16 degree windchill on parts of the ride...that was the lowest I noticed.  The temps were fluctuating all over from -8 to -16.  I got down to the race and got myself an early parking spot (parking can be an issue here and I wanted to be as close to the start/finish as possible).  I wasn't sure who would show up, as most of the diehards raced the night before and the idea of racing again early the next morning in even colder weather was probably not a good one for most.  Horsehill was also a reschedule, so it was a possibility that some people couldn't make it due to conflicts.

I 'warmed up' just over 3 miles or so on the roads and a bit of the course.  Due to the weather, RD Mike Amarello setup a two loop course that was shorter than usual (at the advice of a park official) and he gave the runners a choice of doing 1 loop or 2.  2 would count in the GSSS.  I was surprised to see only 15 people toe the line (2 would choose the 1 loop and 13 would brave the full 3.5-ish mile course).  Of course Colin Carroll was back for more and I was a little concerned at how I'd feel having to push again, only a handful of hours after the previous race.   I was thinking that because now it's daylight and I'm 500x older than him, he'd have a better chance of taking me down today.  The race went off and I again tried to get out and 'thin' out the already 'thinned' out pack.

The course was essentially the same it always is at the beginning.  You take a hard left off of the first long double-wide section and dip into the woods.  Then it's straight up that steep hill and over to the long sweeping switchbacks down eventually to the bottom.  Then it's more of the same back up and out until you get back to the main double-wide section again which meets back up with the turn into the woods again for lap 2.

I had a small lead again early but by the time the top of the hill came and went, I was alone. I could see Colin back through some of the switchbacks early but never saw him again.  I felt pretty good for most of the race, only falling once on the second loop on the switchbacks.  The snow was great.  Fast and pretty deep off the trail.  Fat bikes had really laid out a strong base to the trail.  I ran strong until the last 200 yards or so and then I felt like I wanted to die.  Not sure why.  I just pretty much bonked out physically.  I ended up coming through in 24:29.  The course was definitely a big slower than Kingman but about the same distance.  I was a full 2:12 ahead of Colin this time, which surprised me.  I was 1:31 ahead at Kingman but he was racing someone in a tight race at the end so that's probably the big difference maker there.  Either way I was pleased to have held him off again.  He's in much better shape than I am for the faster stuff for sure.

A couple more miles on the roads for a 'cooldown' as crazy as it seemed, and then I was out of there... back up to the valley to spend the rest of Valentines day with the ladies.  Thankfully I had Monday off to 'recover' from all this excitement.

My history at the Horsehill Snowshoe Race:

2009 - 1st
2010 - 1st
2011 - 1st
2013 - 1st
2014 - 3rd (Nacho and Newbould 1-2)
2015 - 1st
2016 - 1st

In 2012 (the year basically snowshoe racing didn't happen) I skipped the race as the weather was awful.  Raining and ice.  Tilton caught wind of me not going and went down for the easy win that year.

I believe Horsehill may be my most frequently won 'annual' race.  I have 6 wins in 7 runs.  Beaver Brook would be about the same but I've missed a couple years due to the race being cancelled because of weather.  I think I'm at 5 wins at Beaver Brook.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Week of February 8 - February 14

Week of February 8 - February 14

February 8 (Monday) - AM: 5 miles easy. Couldn't get back out in the PM...Daddy duty.
February 9 (Tuesday) - AM: 5 miles easy.  PM: 10 miles (63:30).
February 10 (Wednesday) - AM: 5 miles easy.  PM: 10 miles normal.
February 11 (Thursday) - PM: 10 miles (66:40). No am run...busy with work and wasn't feeling great. Hamstring also acting up a little but I think it's just due to the fact that I inadvertently stopped stretching.
February 12 (Friday) - AM: 5 miles easy.  PM: 5 miles easy.  Hamstring pretty bad on the PM run.
February 13 (Saturday) - PM: 8.5 miles as 3 mile w/ up (2 on the road at 1 on snowshoes) + 3.5 mile race (Kingman Farm Snowshoe Race (results) - 1st OA) + 2 mile cooldown.  Hamstring barked once during the first half mile and then was fine.
February 14 (Sunday) - AM: 8.7 miles as 3.1 mile w/up (road and snowshoe) + 3.5 mile race (Horsehill Snowshoe Race  (results) - 1st OA) + 2.1 mile cooldown (roads).  Felt pretty beat but managed to hold everything in check.

Weekly Summary: 72.2 miles for the week.  2 races.  2 wins.

Decent week although I had a couple days I couldn't do a double so the mileage was a bit lower than I planned but maybe that was a good thing.  With 2 snowshoe races this weekend I probably made the right move (inadvertently).  The Saturday night / Sunday morning double wasn't as bad as I thought (at my age) although I was a little spent at the end of Horsehill.  The windchill and low temps also zapped the energy a little bit.  Definitely a long weekend... I had just over an hour's worth of a ride to get to Kingman (and then home) so I didn't end up getting home until a bit late on Saturday night.  I had to immediately do a bunch of laundry so I had stuff to race in the next morning and didn't get to bed until about midnight.  Up at 6 and on the road to make the 2 hour trip down to Merrimack, NH for Horsehill at 10am.  It was -16 degrees up and over the big lake as I cut across to 93.  By the time I was at Horsehill it had 'warmed up' to -8.  All in all though, I was glad to get in a couple of honest efforts on the snowshoes.  I had my CMS teammate Colin Carroll who is in great shape for so early in the year (or by my rationale, any time of year), keep me on my toes in both races.  I'll try to get to a race writeup for these two races maybe tomorrow.  I was lucky to be able to hold him off in both races but it's cool to see more fast guys getting out and giving the snowshoeing a go.

I was very proud to have been able to spot my longtime friend and teammate Dan Vassallo representing CMS and New England very well at the 2016 Olympic Trials on Saturday.  I believe with DD, Nate, and now Dan, I have 3 teammates that have made it to what is for most, the pinnacle of US marathoning.  Very cool to have such amazing and talented teammates for sure.  It was also great to see fellow NH runner Andy Huebner make it to the line after what has been a very difficult but inspiring last couple years for him.  I'm sure these guys will both be back next time...  There were a lot of New Englanders out there on both the men's and women's side and it was great to see them all toe the line and give it their best in less than ideal conditions.  It's going to be very interesting to see what Rupp ends up doing in the Games.  I hope he holds up and goes into them healthy...that could be his only obstacle... That and some East African running a sub 2:05...

Sunday afternoon was spent w/ my girls on Valentines.  They are slowly destroying the house little by little, but they are cute doing it...

The girls enjoying Valentines Day 2016

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Week of February 1 - February 7

Week of February 1 - February 7

February 1 (Monday) - AM: 5 miles easy roads. PM: 5 miles easy roads.
February 2 (Tuesday) - AM: 5 miles easy roads. PM: 10 miles on the mill as 4 easy and then 6 x 800 @ 5:00 pace with 1 min @ 7:30 pace in between for the rest and then cooldown.  Went through 5k in 16:54.  4 miles in 22:40 or so (actual workout ended before 4 miles and the rest was garbage up to 4 mile mark)... last couple miles easy.  1 min rest really was less as I had to slow down the pace and pick up the pace during that 1:00 to make sure the 800s were fully 2:30 in duration at 5:00 pace.  So the rest in reality was more like 40 seconds...
February 3 (Wednesday) - AM: 5 miles easy. PM: 8 miles. Was on a work call until almost 7pm and only had time for a quick 8 before the mill closed.
February 4 (Thursday) - PM: 12 miles easy roads (2 solo and then 10 with Kevin L. Tilton, LLS. Staff Surveyor) from Ranger Station on the Kanc, down West Side / Passaconway / and some neighborhoods (headlamp).  Was on a work call from 8am until 3:30pm.  So needless to say I didn't get out for a morning/lunch run.
February 5 (Friday) - AM: 5 miles easy. PM: 10 miles.
February 6 (Saturday) - PM: 5 miles easy.
February 7 (Sunday) - AM: PM: 10 miles as 3.5 mile w/up + 4 mile race (4th Down and 4 miler - 1st OA) + 2.5 mile c/dwn.

Weekly Summary: 80 miles for the week.

Not a bad week for February. Another week of at least 80 with a decent workout and an OK race on Sunday down in Concord, NH at the NHTI campus.  It was my first time running the 4th Down and Four Miler (results).  Not quite as fast as I would have liked for the 4 miler though. I thought I'd run 20 high (so at least sub 21) but alas it wasn't meant to be.  It was a tad windy the entire time but mainly I was just not as fast as I was hoping.  I had 4.04 on my Garmin for the race so I know the course was good...and it was pretty flat except the 2x up and over Route 93 on the bridge.  I just went out a little too hot for my fitness and because I was all alone, I had a hard time keeping the turnover going.  I went out at 5:04 and it just got a bit slower from there.   I did run pretty hard over the last quarter to try to dip down under 21 but just missed it at 21:03.  At first I was pretty disappointed despite getting the win, but the more I thought about it, the more I realize that I was under 16:30 for the 5k with another mile to go and I wasn't a complete bag of crap while doing it...I guess if I feel flat and still run 21 minutes, that's tolerable.  It's only the first week of February and typically this time of year I am just snowshoe racing so I really have no way of knowing how fast I usually am during the dead of winter.  I think this result is probably pretty good, all things considered.  Usually I don't run faster, shorter road races in the winter so this is probably a typical result if I was to do this more often mid-winter.  I'm glad I did it though. I need to keep getting in races to stay sharp.  If I don't race and put myself in those situations, I get pretty rusty both physically and mentally.

After the race, I shot over to Portsmouth to attend the Six03 kickoff party for a bit. I didn't stay too long but did get to talk to some folks including Andy Schachat and surprisingly a 'confused' Brandon Newbould was just there to hangout with Eric Narcisi (who stood him up).  It was good quickly catching up w/ people and then grabbing a bunch of awesome gear for this upcoming year.  It was an awesome spread put on by Six03 with good food, drinks, vendors, etc. (that's pretty typical for this club from what I've seen).  I then made a quick stop at Toys R Us for some Ponies and Paw Patrol stuff (not for me) before heading back home to cap off a good week.