Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I Love Woodford Snowshoe Race

(As of Wednesday night, Results still not posted. I took a picture of the board before I left and typed up the top 10 below) On Sunday, one day after Christmas, I headed out to Woodford, VT to run in my 3rd straight I Love Woodford (results) snowshoe race.  This is typically the first race of the season and has had some pretty good competition at it over the past couple years.  It is also race #1 in the WMAC/Dion snowshoe series and is race #1 in the newly formed Northeast Snowshoe Federation Cup, which combines the two main series in the Northeast (GSSS and WMAC/Dion + some other non-series races).  2 years ago, (2008) Woodford was my 1st ever snowshoe race and I came in second behind Josh Ferenc (BAA/Keenyan).  Last year, due to Josh wiping out about a mile into the race, I was able to get a 1 second win over Tim VanOrden (CMS/Running Raw) and following closely behind Tim, was Brian Rusiecki (Vasque) in what turned out to be a pretty stacked field of snowshoers.  This year, the conditions were supposed to be super fast, according to the emails sent around prior to the race from the RD.  I was looking forward to making the 3 hour trip out west to get back on the shoes again and race in only my 2nd race in the month of December.  Since November, my racing frequency had slowed a bit, but this was a chance to make my 64th race of the year, besting last year's total by just 1 race.

The entire trip out there, you'd swear to God there was no snow to run on,  as the entire ride out on Rt. 2 was completely void of snow anywhere.  As I made my way up into VT, there was a little snow, but almost no accumulation at all.  As close as 5 miles out from Woodford, there was nothing.  Literally 10 minutes down the road from the race, things changed drastically, and there was snow everywhere...deep powder and high drifts all over the place.  It looked like how a snowshoe racing season is supposed to look!  I pulled in the parking lot and was the first racer there (as there were only the volunteers and RD setting up the registration area).  Not too long after I registered, DD pulled in, Steve Wolfe and Chris Dunn rolled in, and the other usual suspects all started to appear.  DD and I headed off to flag the course (which we do every year) to not only set the course for everyone to know where the heck they are going, but also to scope out the conditions and get a warmup in.  We noticed right away how nice and fast the conditions were.  It wasn't quite as fast as a groomed trail, but it was pretty packed and there was plenty of snow everywhere.  We finished flagging the course and headed back over to the car to change clothes and get over to the line for some last minute strides and preparation.  I went with the Inov-8 F-Lite 230s in my Dion 121's and it was a GREAT combination.  I felt really fast and light on my feet in the Inov-8s.  I love those shoes on the roads and mountains, but Kevin and Ben had been telling me they are great for wearing while snowshoeing, so I gave it a try on the warmup and loved the way they felt. I definitely have my new shoe to clip into the Dions.

The race went out as I kind of expected, with Tivo and myself out front.  I went out relatively steady but not crazy fast.  The race starts out on a nice flat unplowed road section and then winds up the auto road for a few minutes before dipping left into the woods.  My plan was to definitely be in the woods section before anyone else and then just push it on the continuous up and down/rolly sections of single track for the middle couple of miles.  The road was pretty well packed, as were the single track sections, which made for a pretty fast ascent up to the single track.  As I turned onto the trail and headed into the woods, I was in first by a few seconds, with Tivo next in line.  I am not sure who was next, as I didn't look back enough to notice, but it could have been DD.

For the next couple of miles, I pushed along the nicely packed single track section (which was very narrow and twisty at times). I felt very strong and in control (unlike this time last year, where I was severely out of racing shape and struggling the entire race).   For a while, I could see Tivo back in second, as his blue shirt stuck out against the whiteout background.  Somewhere before halfway was the last time I saw Tim and from that point on, I was motoring, but keeping sure I kept some in the tank in case someone was to challenge me at the end of the race (which is wide open down the auto road once again).  I hit halfway in something like 11:30 or so and knew it was going to be a very fast time.

Once around the lake and up the last climb, I hit the exit of the woods and knew I had the win, as I couldn't see anyone else coming from behind and I had a ton left in the tank.  Last year on this section, Tivo and I had to blaze all out on the very sloppy snow to try and outkick each other.  I came down and  to the finish in 20:28 for a new CR (old CR was 21:20 by Paul Low in 2007) and my first 'W' of the 2010-2011 snowshoe season.

Top 10 (CMS in Blue):

1Jim Johnson3320:28
2Tim VanOrden4221:01
3Dave Dunham4622:13
4Stephen Dowsten2223:17
5Connor Devine1723:18
6Steve Wolfe4624:10
7Chris Dunn4224:57
8John Agosta4625:03
9Erik Wight5125:17
10Richard Teal3225:21

DD and I did the course again right after for our cooldown and I milled around a bit, talking with some hearty folks as the temps were dipping down below comfortable.  I had some soup and some coffee before hitting the road and beating the impending blizzard that was rolling into the Northeast.

The man, the myth, the legend...Bob Dion...

2011 Team Inov-8

The Inov-8 Team for 2011 has been officially announced, and I am happy to have once again been selected to represent the team and brand in the snow, on the trails, on the roads, and in the mountains for the upcoming year.  The company has a ton of great products being launched this year including some road flats and trainers (which I've had the pleasure to test out and absolutely love).

Since I plan on doing a lot more trail/mountain stuff and also some additional ultras this coming year, I look forward to trying out a lot more models I didn't get a chance to test drive last year.

The 2011 Team Roster looks to be loaded once again with MUT (Mountain/Ultra/Trail) talent and includes a few of my CMS mates, Abby Mahoney, Peter Maksimow, Kevin Tilton, and Ben Nephew.  Some other New Englanders on the squad include Amy Lane and Gina Lucrezi.  It should be a great year out on the trails and in the mountains...but first, snowshoe season!!!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Training 12-20 to 12-26

Wrap Up: 84.8 miles for the week on all singles.  One good solid race (snowshoe). It's great to be back in the shoes again!  Tons of snow out in Woodford made for a great kickoff to the 2010-2011 season.  Race report to follow.  It looks like this week will incorporate some difficult weather into the schedule...I may look to run some additional snowshoe miles now that we are currently getting slammed with the blizzard of the year here in the Northeast.  Great job to all the guys who ventured to Woodford and to BU this weekend.  There were some really great times and PRs all over the joint.  Mahoney in the 3k (and rocked a mile too), Fyffe in the Mile, etc.  Good to see the guys stepping up early in the season... Looking forward now to 2011 and new goals.  One last huge thanks to J.Ferenc for blowing off gave me a better shot at winning that thing...

12-26 - Sunday: 10 miles (snowshoe) - Woodford, VT. 40 Min or so from parking lot over to the course to flag it w/ DD before the race.  Then raced (20:28 - New CR) - 1st OA - Then cooldown immediately over the course again w/ DD in somewhere around 26-27 minutes or so... Not quite sure.  9 miles of snowshoeing on the day for somewhere around 87:00 of total running.

12-25 - Saturday: 10 miles (roads) - Haverhill/Bradford/Groveland, MA with Verrington, Dunham, M.Quintal. Just about 10 miles, but with the snow/ice and trails + constant adjusting trying to find routes and trails that went for more than 100 yards without some obstruction, calling it 10. MQ had 9.8 on his Garmin and I mapped it out and it's right. Contrary to the time (which looks more like a 12 miler), the snow and trails made it slower than normal.

This run was labelled as potentially the 'Twelve Miles of Christmas' beforehand, but it was more like 'The Plight-mare Before Christmas' or 'Homeless for the Holidays' as we scampered through the skid row sections of town... I haven't seen this much graffiti since the Breakin' movies.   This is [the route] without the exact entry and exit points of the long stretch of trail on 97/113 along the river before downtown. I kept the route on the street instead. It's a negligible difference. The rest is accurate. Enjoyable run regardless of having to pick broken glass and needles out of my shoes afterwards... It's fun to wander around and explore new places, rather than do the same old route all the time. [1:24:07]. Merry Christmas!

12-24 - Friday: 14 miles (roads) - Haverhill/Bradford, MA w/ Verrington, King, & the Quintals. First 10 roads and snow/ice covered trails + last 4 solo. Wore the slickest, flattest road trainers available, and we go snow and ice. [1:40:21]. Chris Mahoney was a no-show. Tomorrow, for those interested, we meet once again at Dan Verrington's house at 7am for 'The Twelve Miles of Christmas' exploratory run on the Haverhill Rail/River trail.  Same drill as want to meet us and need directions, give me a shout...

12-23 - Thursday: 10 miles (roads) - Haverhill, MA w/ Chris Mahoney and Heather Maho...I mean Searles.  Nice and easy...locked into Heather's patented 7:21 pace.  She tried to lose us on the way back, but Chris told me to 'show her who's boss' and we dropped her over the last couple miles.  I am shocked to say that nothing is bothering me right now except idiots from Mass cutting through our town to go shopping to save a couple cents [1:13:25].  Tomorrow, for those interested, we meet at Dan Verrington's at 7am SHARP (no 5 minute rule)... We'll go roads and somewhere between 75 min to 105 min.  Email, text, call, fb msg me, or reply to this post if you need his address...or, if you know it, show up for the run!

12-22 - Wednesday: 17.6 miles (roads) - Salem, Methuen, N.Salem. Arlington Mills Reservoir loop from my house. Solo. Nice and steady. Snow squalls the whole time.  Last mile was really slippery on the way back up to the house.  Timed it just right, as the sidewalks were starting to get white as I hit the last mile. [1:58:18].

12-21 - Tuesday: 12 miles (roads) - In Andover, MA from Merrimack College w/ Matt Pimentel and Jon & Chris Healey. Good run from neighborhood to neighborhood, staying off the main streets.  Roads were pretty clear. [1:23:43]. Check out this very cool vid of Anton and his winter routine (lifted from GZ's post from yesterday). Another good vid I saw yesterday after returning from the New Balance factory and hopping on their website...interesting to see the line of NB Minimus prototypes and listen to the story behind the concept... Speaking of these minimalistic trail shoes...just wait for the 2011 Inov-8 lineup...some very interesting kicks coming our way courtesy of those guys...

12-20 - Monday: 11.2 miles (roads) - Harris' Pelham Inn loop from my house (Salem, Methuen, Pelham). This is a great run over into Pelham and up around the hills in back of the Inn. Took it out nice and slow and eased into it. Felt really good..nice and smooth. Thought I was taking it easy until I started hitting all the usual spots about 1-2 minutes faster than normal. I got to the Pelham town line 1:30 faster than I normally do and hit the hills up behind the Inn nice and steady. Didn't pick it up on the way back (like I usually do), just held it steady. Started flurrying on the way back. Left hip/lower abdomen was a little tight (like it was yesterday) late into the run..not sure what it is, but it's not too bad (yet). The fact that I actually have a problem on my LEFT side for once is amazing. Nate Talk on Letsrun... Good publicity or bad...seems a lot of people have an opinion on Nate and what he does... which means people know who Nate is... which means he's done something right, doesn't it?  There is no 'doublej' talk on Let's Run.  If I ran a 2:14 and came in 7th at the trials, there would be.  I hate haters. [1:10:36]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Training 12-13 to 12-19

Wrap Up: 87 miles for the week, which is a big step in the right direction.  The foot moved in the right direction, but then started to bother me again on Saturday/Sunday.  I got through it and will watch it closely this week.  We are supposed to get some weather early in the week, so we'll see how many miles I can squeeze in.  2 great trail runs w/ two crews of 9 guys each on Sat/Sun.  This is probably the last weekend I'll be able to do this for a long time, as the snowshoe season kicks off next weekend. It will be good to get back to racing again.  I have been stuck at 63 races for the year (which ties last year's totals), but next weekend will give me 64, which will be a new high for me for races in one year.  This doesn't include any 'weekly' series races at all.  Since I had a relatively slow November and December, race-wise', it will leave it wide open for me to surpass this total next year (if I don't get injured!).

12-19 - Sunday: 20 miles (trails) River trail run with Verrington, Dunham, M.Quintal, D.Quintal, Pat Ard, Jon Healey, Chris Healey, Matt Pimentel.  3.5 loop w/ MQ and DV + 12 out and back w/ the crew + additional 4.5 with DV and Patrick.  Good solid run. Warmer than yesterday.  Had some achillies issues later in the run and was pretty stiff (hips and lower back) by the end.  It may have been due to all the surges MQ was putting in on the way back.  That kid has begun his Cranmore training already. [2:27:05]

12-18 - Saturday: 13 miles (trails) in Winni (Haverhill) with Dan Verrington, Dave Dunham, Dave LaPierre, Ken Tripp, Steve Peterson, Mark Kimball, Mike Quintal, Dave Quintal [1:32:26].  An All Star cast for the ages:

Dan Verrington: 1996 - Vermont City Marathon - 2:21:10 / 1993 - New Bedford Half - 1:05:32
Dave Dunham: 1990 - Columbus Marathon - 2:19:28 / 1993 - New Bedford Half - 1:05:02
Steve Peterson: 8 Sub 1:10 Mt. Washington's - 1:08:01 PR (1991)
Dave Lapierre: 1:08:45 Mt. Washington (1991)
Mark Kimball: 9:10 2-Mile in H.S. D1 All American in XC @ BU. Too many CRs/PRs to list
Ken Tripp: Always 'plans' to race... 2:40:28 Baystate (2010) as a newly-turned master.
Dave Quintal: D2 XC All American (1983) - 30:22 10K / 14:38 5k @ UML.
Mike Quintal: 15:47 @ Cigna (2010) 39:39 12k @ Bedford (2010) Smoked me at Stowe (2010)

12-17 - Friday: 8 miles (trails) in Winni with Dave Dunham (nice and slow for me, all out for him).  Achillies flared up again right out of the gate... not good.  Looking forward to seeing the results from the Mini Meet tomorrow.  Looking forward to seeing C.Mahoney, J.Healey, and some other CMS mates all go under 8:40 in the 3k. Also hoping to get in some good runs this weekend w/ the boys (with or without the cooperation of my right foot!) [56:56].

12-16 - Thursday: 11.2 miles (roads) with Dan Vassallo, MQ, and the Brothers-Healey. From Merrimack in Andover over the typical loop.  MQ pushed the pace as usual, but for the most part we took it pretty easy and smooth. [1:16:14].  This is brilliant!

12-15 - Wednesday: AM: 6.5 miles (roads) with Judge Jones from the court house up into N. Salem and back down. [49:00] PM: 9 Miles (trails) in Haverhill (Winni) - 1 x basin loop (solo) + 8 out and back w/ Dave Dunham.  Kinda cold out. [1:04:55] Total: 15.5.

12-14 - Tuesday: 9.5 miles (roads) - Whirlaway loop from my house, up into Methuen, west parish Haverhill, and then back down past Whirlaway and back up through The Loop to my house.  It made me think of the warmer days of the summer Thursday night loop from the store.  That is a good run.  This was meant to be run 1 of 2 for the day (as I did this one early) but I couldn't get back out the door in time for the second run, as work got CRAZY later in the day. Foot felt better than it has since before Baystate.  That's a great sign.  I think I'm still recovering from Sin City though...still very tired....[1:02:04]

12-13 - Monday: 10 miles (trails) - The rivah trail in Andover, MA.  A little muddy at the entrance, but the rest was pleasantly clear and not too wet.  Didn't see any animals in there because there aren't any in Andover or anywhere around here. But if you want to see some cool animals, check this out.  Foot feels better than it has in over a month. A couple days off was probably just what I needed. I still have pain, especially on the climbs, but it's getting better and that's a great sign.  Glad to be back and able to run outside.  4 days in Vegas feels like an eternity if you like running and living a (relatively) healthy lifestyle...[1:08:41]

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Training 12-06 to 12-12

Wrap Up: 48 miles on 5 days running with 2 days off due to travel. I had a good start to the week and then knew it would be tough to be able to run around my busy weekend schedule in Las Vegas.  Seeing this was a work function, I couldn't get away for any quality sessions, and even if I could, the location is not particularly 'running-friendly'... The good news is that my foot is feeling much better.  There are still issues with pain and tightness, but it appears to be getting a lot better.

12-09 - Sunday - 0 miles.  This was a complete was of a day, travel-wise... I was up at 4am, at the airport at 5:30ish, flight at 6:30am into NC.  1 hour or so between flights.  Funny thing was being on the same flight back to Manchester, NH as Kevin Alliette (NBB), who was coming back from XC Nationals.  I met him in the terminal in NC as he was on standby to get on the flight.  I talked to the people at the gate, the flight attendants, and the pilots, but contrary to my suggestion that they keep him grounded at the aiport, they let him on the plane anyways :)... Got home a little after 6pm and it was pouring rain, windy, and just plain crappy outside.  Couple that with me being completely wiped out, and it resulted in another rest day.

12-09 - Saturday - 0 miles. Day 2 of the conference and I was hurting BADLY for most of the day (after a night of god knows what). I had to give a little presentation and I had to sit in sessions from the crack of dawn until the evening.  Good news is that I had my pockets stuffed with winnings from the hazy early morning blackjack... I may have gotten 20 minutes of sleep before having to begin the day.  This was essentially expected though.

12-09 - Friday - 5 miles (treadmill) - quite frankly, I'm shocked I got a run in in Vegas.  There is absolutely ZERO place to run on or around the strip.  There is little to no access to the actual streets, and the sidewalks are filled with drunks and hookers.  I was able to dash out of the conference at 5:45 (after the day begins at 6am)...I missed dinner to get the short run in.  The gym was nice (obviously) but hot as hell.  I had all I could do to get this run in without passing out.  I kept increasing the pace just to get the run over with.  Then it was out for a LONG night... [33:08]

12-09 - Thursday - 6 miles (roads) - quick/short run in before heading to the airport [41:23]

12-08 - Wednesday - 11 miles (roads and trails) - from Andover HS to Dan's work then to the bird sanctuary (2 loops) at Phillips with DV, then back through Spring Grove and back to the HS + one lap around the school. [1:17:09].

12-07 - Tuesday - 15 miles (2)
- 5 Miles (roads) - solo. Salem, Methuen [34:21]
- 10 Miles (trails) - 3 basin bangs w/ DD + 5 loop in Winni w/ DD and Verrington + additional castle loop with DV [1:10:50]

12-06 - Monday - 11 miles (trails) - Winni trails (Haverhill). First 3 basin bangs solo + 1 basin loop w/ DD + the 5 loop with DD and Dan Verrington + 2 additional miles up to the castle w/ DV [1:16:47]

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mill Cities Relay

Photo above courtesy of Steve Wolfe (GCS).

Race #63 (ties me with last year) took me over to Nashua, NH to run leg 1 of the 27th Annual Mill Cities Relay (results).  The relay is 27.1 miles from Nashua, NH to Lawrence, MA, and zips through the towns of Hudson, NH, Tyngsboro, MA, Lowell, MA, and Methuen, MA in between (for 7 total towns, all winding along the Merrimack River).  The 5 legs of the relay consist of a 5.6 mile, a 4.75 mile, a 2.5 mile, a 9.5 mile, and another 4.75 mile.  The logistics and planning it takes to get all your team members to all the specific handoff zones, while also allowing them to effectively warm up, cool down, etc. is all part of the fun (especially when you are doing it all in one vehicle).

I first did this race in 2006 (December) and it was my first (uniformed) race back running after my hiatus.  I was in horrible shape back then but gave it a go in the 2.5 mile (3rd leg).  Then, in 2007, I gave it another go but this time, led off with the first leg from Nashua to Hudson, NH.  I ran pretty well back in that race (29:48) but had loads of company.  I had Matt Pimentel, Paul Larosa, and Casey Moulton to run with over the first 5.6 mile leg.  That helped push me through those middle miles where it is really rolly. We won the entire thing in 2006 and 2007 (overall club champions - MVS).  In 2006, we also had/set the current course record of 2:22:18 (as the team called 'The Challenged'). In 2008 I opted out of the race, as I had left MVS and my new club 'CMS' is not part of the Mill Cities Alliance.  In 2009, I was scheduled to run it as part of the newly accepted Goon Squad Runners, but I had come down with an injury that week that sidelined me for that weekend.  This year, I was yet again injured, as my achillies and ankle problems continue to plague my running, but I was not going to bail two years in a row on my same group of guys.  I decided to give it a go and run the first leg again, even though they had lined up a replacement for me the night before.

The name of our team was 'The Champ is Here'.  I think Dan Vassallo (recent winner of the Philadelphia Marathon) came up with this name.  I didn't know it until race morning, but the name comes from some ridiculous hip hop song (where every other word appears to start with an F), but I think that made it funnier.  Despite the incessant blaring of hardcore gansta rap emanating from the speakers of Matt Pimentel's car on the way up to the race start, I was able to keep it together and focus on the task at hand. Typically I rely on something a little more rock and roll to get me pumped up before a run, but I was so nervous about my fitness (from this horrible cold that won't go away) and my foot problems, that I was preoccupied with the whole notion of potentially letting my team down.  After scoping out the gym at the YMCA in Nashua and talking with some folks, I headed out for a 4 mile warmup (slightly longer than usual to try to loosen up my ankle/achillies as much as possible).  My foot started to get pretty bad on the warmup, but it wasn't enough to stop me from getting the run in.  The warmup was a nice easy jaunt through some quiet neighborhoods around the area from the YMCA. The morning was pretty brisk (below freezing) and I decided to go with some long tights to keep all my muscles in check.  If I was in tip top shape, I would have just gone with shorts or half-tights.  As I made my way back to the starting area, I started to notice a bunch of quicker looking guys, including Paul Larosa, milling around the start.  I figured it would be a decent leg and I'd have some guys (including Mike Cooney (WRT) ) to race with.

The race began with the dropping of the ceremonial brick, this year by my high school xc/track coach John Dicommandrea.

Video of the Start - 8am - Nashua, NH - courtesy of Wicked Running Club:

I quickly got out (although it didn't really feel that quick) to the early lead, took the first righthand turn, and that was it.  I occasionally glanced behind me to see who was going to come along for the ride, but nobody wanted it.  I chugged up and over the first bridge and down onto rt. 3A and was already pretty much alone.  I kind of wanted it that way, but at the same time, would have liked some company for a bit so we could push the pace.  I went out to the tune of 5:08 for the first mile, which I think was responsible for the solo effort that was to come.  I ran nice and steady after that, but felt slow due to the time-trial nature.  This race frequently becomes just that, rather quickly. Most of the time it is one team that just opens it up and takes it from the beginning.

Leg 1 is the only leg that actually has an elevation gain, as most of this race is right along the river or at least following the river.  The gain is negligible at only a few feet (3), but it is the only one with an actual gain (Leg 2 loses 10 feet, Leg 3 loses 43 feet, Leg 4 loses 29 feet, and Leg 5 loses just 1 ft).  You can see by the elevation that it is a moderately rolly leg and it is similar to leg 2.  Both the first couple legs are not really within view of the river at all and are set apart by some distance, so the elevation loss isn't as evident as the latter legs, which follow the river quite closely.

I clicked through the second mile much slower (5:21) and as you can see from the elevation, it is entirely uphill.  I knew I ran 29:48 in 2007 and wanted to at least run faster than that this year, even with a bad cold and foot issues.  I figured I was in that much better shape that even alone and in sub-par shape, I could still run faster than when I was at my peak in 2007.  To do that, I would have to average 5:19s or better, which is what my average per-mile pace was for the 5.6 leg back then.

The third mile is more of the same, with a slight downhill, but mostly up.  I clicked through slightly quicker in 5:13 (for 15:43 overall) and kept chuggin.  The streets were quiet and the only real people out on the course were occasional cars loaded with other runners, making their way out to the next leg.  I passed 10 or so groups of other teams who were out on the course cheering.  Aside from that, it was a pretty quiet and lonely run.  I'm not sure why (seeing there seems to be more downhill than uphill in mile 4) but I came through mile 4 in a very slow 5:23 (for 21:07 total).  I had started to really feel the lack of sufficient training during this stretch and it showed.  My lead remained decent though, as I could hardly make out who was in 2nd, as I looked backed down the highway.  I clicked through the 5th mile in 5:05 (I was 5:04 for this mile in 2007) because it has got some good downhill sections.  My 5 mile time was an 'ok' 26:12 for this rather challenging leg.  The last .6 goes by very slow, as I was just begging for the finish line. Because the race is all on a wide open major road like 3A, you can see a long way in both directions and it just seems really long and slow.  I really do enjoy this section though, as aside from the seemingly continuous rolls, it is a nice stress free run.  I ran 3:17 for the last .6 miles and turned into the parking lot to hand off to Jon Healey, who was running the 2nd leg from Hudson, NH to Tyngsboro, MA.  I handed off to Jon in the exchange zone in 29:30 when I stopped my watch (5:16 pace).  Mission accomplished.  I ran 18 seconds faster than 3 years ago (even with my current issues and being alone for the whole race) and handed off in 1st place.  I timed the differential and the next runner (Mike Cooney - WRT) came in 1:19 later when he handed off to Craig Fram.

Photo above, courtesy of Steve Wolfe, of Mike Masse (currently at Boston College) running the 2.5 leg.

I didn't get Jon Healey's split, but the combination of Mike Masse (our 2.5 leg runner) and Jon was 38:17 or so. I believe Mike told me he ran 12:58 for his 2.5 leg (5:11 pace) so Jon was probably somewhere around 25:05 or so (around 5:16 pace).  Dan Vassallo headed out on the 9.5 mile leg from the UML boathouse along the river, up and over through UMass Lowell, and down along the river into Methuen. He would go on to hammer out a 48:23 (5:05 pace) 9.5 leg (which roughly equates to a sub 51 minute 10 mile effort, solo).  He handed off to Matt Pimentel in Methuen, MA at 1:56:04 and Matt would go on to run 25:30 or so (approx. 5:22 pace) over the last 4.75 leg (which includes a decent hill in the middle).  These combine efforts brought us in at 2:21:43 and a new MCR (current course) record (5:13 per mile pace for the entire 27.1).  Next year, rumor has it that the start will be pushed back even further into Nashua and the course could be lengthened by a mile or so.

For our efforts, we received the infamous Brick and enjoyed a great after party at the Claddagh Pub in Lawrence.  Great food, music, brews, and good mates capped off a great day of running around the Merrimack Valley.  Congrats to the Gate City Striders for putting together a deep squad to take the overall club title.

Here's a cool vid from the Winners Circle:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Training 11-29 to 12-05

Wrap Up: 50.9 Miles total with one day off due to this nagging foot issue.  I took a couple of 6 mile days and 8 mile days so the total was low, but not horrendous for me at this time of year.  I'm still struggling with this cold as well.  This coming week I am going to try to get back to basics.  Felt good to get a nice Mill Cities leg in again after a couple years off from it.  Good times.

12-05 - Sunday: 12.1 Miles (roads) - Nashua, Hudson, NH, Tyngsboro, Lowell, MA. - warmup (4 Miles +) before Mill Cities Relay with strides (30:00) + 5.6 Miles (leg 1 of relay) - (29:30) + 2.5 mile leg from Tyngsboro to Lowell with Dan Vassallo as a cooldown (18:45) - 12.1 miles at 1:18:15 total time.

12-04 - Saturday: 6.6  Miles (roads) - Salem, Methuen - solo. The old winter loop I used to do back during my first winter back running...depressing.  Another day down, another run wasted on the roads around here. Ankle is horrible.  I can't flex my toes in my shoe or my ankle just throbs with pain...Tomorrow is the MCR (which I shouldn't have agreed to do, but I had to drop out at the last minute last year due to an injury, so I can't pull the same thing this year)...I'm going to try to help the team out, but it may not be pretty.  My leg is 5.6 miles (1st leg).  That gives us 4 more legs after mine to be able to squeak out the win...and with Danny Vassallo pulling rank on the field in the 9.5 mile leg, I'm sure we'll have enough to be right up there, even if I blow up.  Oh yeah, did I mention I'M STILL SICK.

12-03 - Friday: 8.1 Miles (roads) - Salem, Methuen, Haverhill - solo.  Ankle still bad, not any worse, maybe a bit better? Not really sure.  Still really sick...hacking up a lung on the run.  Killing Joke on the Ipod drove me home close to a minute faster than yesterday...also ran in the dark w/ headlamp...53:05

12-02 - Thursday: 8.1 Miles (roads) - Salem, Methuen, Haverhill - solo.  Ankle still bad, not any worse.  Still really sick.  Worst headcold I've had in a long time...54:02

12-01 - Wednesday: 6 Miles (roads, trails, and grass fields) - Salem with Judge Jones from courthouse.  Achillies really bad again.  Very sick... 45:30

11-30 - Tuesday: 0 Miles. Feel horrible and my ankle is terrible. Taking a needed day down otherwise I won't make MCR this weekend...

11-29 - Monday: 10 Miles (roads) - North Salem, Derry, NH w/ Dave Quintal (headlamp run).  Achillies really bad tonight. 'Moulton+5' (aka 1:10:00).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The slate of USATF Mountain/Ultra/Trail (MUT) National Championship races for the 2011 season has been announced out of the USATF Annual Meeting this weekend down in Virginia.  The races look like this (in order of distance):

10K Trail: Continental Divide Trail Race - Laurel Springs, NC - 8/27 (also awarded for 2012)
Mountain: Mt.Cranmore Hillclimb - North Conway, NH - 6/26
1/2 Marathon Trail: Footzone Dirty Half - Bend, OR - 6/12
50K Road: Caumsett 50K - Huntington, NY - 3/6 (also awarded for 2012, 2013)
50K Trail: Flagline 50K - Bend, OR - 9/24
50 Mile Road: Tussey MountainBack - Rothrock State Forest, PA - 10/23
50 Mile Trail: Nueces 50 Mile - Rocksprings, TX - 3/5
100K Road: Mad City 100K - Madison, WI - 4/9
100K Trail: Bandara 100K - Bandera, TX - 1/8 (also awarded for 2012)
100 Mile Road: Burning River 100 Mile - Cleveland-Akron, OH - 7/30-7/31 (also awarded for 2012)
24 Hour Road: North Coast 24 Hr - Cleveland, OH - 9/17-9/18

I'm no ultra expert just yet, but apparently the 100 Mile 'Road' championship is the Burning River 100 Mile Endurance Run which is actually '75% trails' according to the website.  Not that I'm planning on doing any 100 milers any time soon, but I just thought that was interesting.  I'm looking forward to the 50k road and the Mountain championships.  I'll 'think' about maybe 1 of the other ones like maybe the Flagline 50, but we'll see.  The 10k trail race sounds like it could be reckless, but the videos I saw from last year of the race looked like the course was pretty challenging and it spread out a lot more than you'd think a shorter trail race would.  I was kind of looking forward to a trail marathon again, but the Lithia Loop didn't bid this year.

Lastly, the Mt. Washington Road Race will be the 2012 USA Mountain Running Championship and selection race for the 2012 US Mountain Running Team.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Turkey Week Races Part 2 - Andover CC XC

The second race of the long weekend (and my 62nd of the 2010 calendar year) brought me back to Andover, MA and the Andover Country Club for the Andover Country Club XC race (results), hosted by the Andover Striders (the first breakaway-MVSers, preceding even the Goon Squad)... The race is a mix of grass (golf course), paved cart path, road, and dirt.

Even though I was having obvious problems with my right foot (going on a month and a half now) and I was coming down with what is now a really bad cold, I decided to head over the Andover Country Club to give this one a go.  I ran this two years ago and came in second to Ryan Carrara (NBB).  This year, I wasn't even thinking of placing in the top 3 or 4 considering how I've been feeling.  I showed up to see the brothers Quintal in the house, Jim Pawlicki, DD, and Bob Wiles.  I knew MQ and Bob would probably be in front of me and couple that with Nate Jenkins (Saucony) giving this one a go, and I was looking at maybe a top 5.  I went on the warmup w/ the lads and felt pretty terrible.  At this point, I just wanted to get in another race to try to beat my total of 63 from last year (although I talked with Bob Strout before the race and he has something like 140-something already, so I look like a total chump compared to that guy).

The race began with a slightly different start than they used 2 years ago (so the race was a tad longer) and I got a horrible jump off the line.  I was way back early and had to weasel my way up through some folks to get up to where I should be.  I still have zero confidence when it comes to running with Bob Wiles for some reason, so I assume he should just automatically be way out in front of me.  I got up next to Mike Quintal and ran side by side with him for the first mile +.  He would surge ahead of me on almost all the uphills and drop me.  I would then catch back up on the downs and pass him on the flats.  It went back and forth like that for a while before I finally was able to sneak a little padding of distance and take in 3rd place for my own for a while. MQ was never too far back and I wasn't really gaining much on Bob Wiles, who continued to go out with Nate Jenkins.

With no mile markers, it's hard to describe where exactly stuff happened, but essentially MQ stayed a few seconds behind me for the last part of the race and was maybe gaining a bit near the end.  I was able to begin to run down Bob Wiles who was feeling it after trying to go out with Nate and from not having run any mileage since Wednesday.  I was able catch up to Bob rather quickly over the span of the last half mile or so and went by him on the very last uphill that cuts up between two condos on the edge of the golf course.  MQ was right behind and it was basically a 3 man kick down that last hill to the finish.  In the end, I was able to hold off my mates and finish 2nd overall for my 2nd time in 2 attempts at this race.  Bob was able to hold off Mike and in the end, CMS took 2,3,4,7,8,9 with Jim Pawlicki, Dave Quintal, and Dave Dunham all coming in together.  We took the team title and a nice plaque, which I immediately stuck in my bag and will hand up in the CMS North clubhouse (when I finally move there).

After the race, they have a nice spread (if you can put up with waiting in a 30 minute line to get pasta).  They have free beer though, and it was fun hanging w/ my CMS mates and Matty Sullivan, who was there running in his triathlon gear and lookin' pretty sharp.  For my 'age group win' I got another nice pint glass and a year's subscription to New England Runner.

Top 10 + CMS in Blue

Place Name Age City/State Team Time Pace
1 NATE JENKINS    30 Andover MA       Saucony 17:30.8 5:01
2 JIM JOHNSON     33 Salem NH         CMS  18:21.7 5:15
3 BOB WILES       33 Kittery ME       CMS  18:25.1 5:16
4 MIKE QUINTAL    32 North Andover MA CMS  18:30.0 5:18
5 JOE DONNELLY    42 Dracut MA        WRT  19:04.8 5:28
6 RYAN KELLY      29 Concord MA       Acidotic   19:21.6 5:32
7 JAMES PAWLICKI  36 Beverly MA       CMS  19:32.8 5:36
8 DAVID QUINTAL   47 Salem NH         CMS  19:33.3 5:36
9 DAVE DUNHAM     46 Ward Hill MA     CMS  19:36.4 5:37
10 JEFFERSON WELCH 23 Haverhill MA     MC (alumn) 19:59.2 5:43
264 THOMAS PARADIS 49 Worcester MA     CMS 32:07.6 9:11

358 Total Finishers.

Photos by Jamie Doucett and race images above courtesy of....  Thanks Jamie!