Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31 (Tuesday)

March 31 (Tuesday) - 5 miles easy at lunch, solo.  From my house down to 41 and out a ways and then back.  Beautiful day out.  Feeling better and slowly starting to not be so sore from head to toe.   Then later (a couple hours), 10 miles easy with Downtown Darin Brown from my house, down to Silver Lake and along 41 then back.  Nice and 'flat'.  Easy does it. 15 miles total on the day.  Picked up my car afterwards.  A grand worth of damage but it's fixed.

Another nice couple shots I got from ES20 on Sunday by Virgil from M51photo.  Coming over the bridge in Kittery, ME and into Portsmouth, NH.

Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30 (Monday)

March 30 (Monday) - Very easy 5 miles from the Albany Service Station back to my house.  Had to drop my car off to get fixed.  Barely made it back from ES20 on Sunday before it basically broke down.  Major work to be done... Nice recovery day from yesterday's effort.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

March 29 (Sunday) - Eastern States 20 Miler

Summer is coming (slowly) to Hampton Beach...

March 29 (Sunday) - Now that my blood has just about stopped boiling over the times being botched at first in the initial results posting on Coolrunning (they first had me and everyone else, about 1:18 slow in the post race results but then added even more time to my time in the revised results that were initially posted, rather than take off the erroneous time from the first results)... As of posting this, they are still trying to fix results, times, places, missing runners, etc. because of a mistake with the clocks at the finish line between the two races....I can calmly refrain from a rant though and get on with my writeup as they indicated they were fixing it and it's obvious that they have been getting hammered by a lot of runners noticing the timing issues.  They responded very quickly to my email this morning and promptly adjusted the time.  It's unfortunate that that small hiccup kind of overshadowed the otherwise beautiful day of running on one of the most scenic courses around.  I have always loved this race and consider it a staple of the early year New England road running scene (at least on my calendar).

Despite my foot pain yesterday, I decided to make it a 'morning of' decision to run the Eastern States 20 Miler (20.2 miles) (results) today.  I woke up at 4am, started testing out the foot and everything seemed fine.  I was up for about an hour before I felt that twinge again right before I was leaving the house after figuring that everything would maybe be ok.   I almost decided not to go but it was really tough to try to convince myself to miss another race.  I'm getting tired of that quite frankly.  I figured maybe if I got there early and worked on my legs a bit, I could salvage something.  So I hit the road anyways, and made my way down to Hampton Beach to get the bus back up to the start in Kittery, ME.

Because this was the 20th Anniversary of the race and Race Directory Don Allison advertised free entry to all former winners.  I really wanted to take advantage of that and join the race for the 20th running.  It wasn't costing me anything and Don's been really good to me over the years and I really wanted to go and be a part of the race.  So I got there nice and early and hit the first bus up to Kittery.  I was there just ahead of 3 hours before the race.  Enough time to stretch, massage, stick, etc.  My legs have still been sore.  Hamstrings, calves, achilles, etc.  You name it, basically it's been bothering me.  But the foot pain is the worst.  It is absolutely linked to tight everything-else.  I just need to keep working on the stretching...

Once I finally went out for a warmup, I noticed only about 1.5 miles into the 2 miles around the school and starting area, that my foot was super sore.  I stepped around a corner where the sidewalk meets the road and got the shooting pain in my foot.  I hobbled for a second and immediately went from very nervous to terrified.  I figured that that was it.  No way I was making the race.  I immediately thought about having to DNS and having to get a ride back to Hampton without even starting the race.  What a nightmare.  I went into the school and tried to figure it all out but all I could do was stand there.  It was going to be nearly impossible or so I thought, to run 20 miles let alone race 20 miles on this foot and with my hamstring, etc.  I wanted to race but I didn't want to have to drop out again (I dropped out in 2013 at 11 miles).  Dropping out of this race is tough logistically.

I walked over to the start, gingerly, and stood there pondering my next move.  I did a couple of strides (or lame attempts at it) and didn't feel the issue, so I wasn't sure what it would take to tweak it. I was hoping maybe I could run possibly a decent amount towards the finish, maybe walk/jog, and just finish.  I planned on taking it very easy from the gun and just running tempo effort for the first bit to test it out. If anyone was running 5:30s, I'd let them go.  My goal became just finishing the race or getting as far as I could.  20 miles seemed like a LONG way to go with a sharp, unpredictable foot pain.    To add insult to literally an injury, Don announced to the runners that the course was 'slightly longer than 20 miles this year'.  A couple of small changes just made the course measure out to slightly longer.  Not so great news to me.

The race went off a minute or two past 11 and immediately 2 GBTC runners shot out to the lead.  It was a little on the slow side, but I still let them go.  I was thinking 6 minute pace....6 minute pace.  I was running behind Jason Bui and 2 others for a little bit as we made our way out of Kittery and across the bridge into Portsmouth.  I kept looking at my watch and seeing 6:00/6:01 tick back and forth for pace.  I kept it right there.  Nice and easy and it felt great.  But my foot was the big question mark.  Every single step I took I was subconsciously preparing myself for the worst.  It sucked.  I ticked over the bridge in 6:01 on my watch...right on pace and right in a very comfortable cadence for my fitness.  I ran through Market Square in 5th place or so and by the time we made our way up to mile 2, I moved ahead just a little bit into 3rd.  The two GBTC runners were a bit ahead already and spreading out from one another.  I kept it easy, controlled, and focused on my foot.  Each step, wondering whether or not I was going to be bouncing up in the air and then falling off to the side of the road in pain.

Mile 2 came and went. 5:54 and feeling like I was running on the roads of Silver Lake.  It should feel like this running that pace.  I usually go out way too hard in races like this and it felt very strange just backing off and letting things play out.  I figured 6 minute pace give or take, would put me in probably the top 4 or 5 if I just kept it as even as I could.  This course allows you to almost run dead even splits if you have no bad spots of wind along the water.  I've known this for years and know you can almost click off splits at will if you are patient enough (which I never am).  I did't want to let it go and just kept my foot on the brake, constantly looking at my watch and backing off during each mile when the pace got too quick.  I kept my mind on the goal of getting closer to the finish and not worrying at all about what was happening up ahead or even behind me for that matter.

Photo by Melissa Garfield
Miles 3 and 4 started to get a little quicker and I was eventually moving into the neighborhood of 5:46s for some reason. That's eventually where I'd end up just settling into for a very comfortable run.  I was catching the 2nd place GBTC runner ever so slightly with each mile.  The leader and the lead police car was in sight but way up the road.  Typically you can see the lead vehicle almost the entire way if you are only a couple minutes back.  There are long stretches of road in this race, which sometimes can have a positive or negative affect on you mentally.  Just after mile 5, the course went around this turn and up and over a slight hill which made you lose sight of the lead vehicle.  For some reason the 2nd place runner thought that the course turned sharp left there and went up into a park along the ocean.  I yelled to him as I passed.  I was sure the course went straight but right before the gun, Don did mention that the race was slightly longer than 20 miles.  I wondered for a few moments as I ran ahead, if he was right in going left.  He put his hands up as he was running as if to say 'where the hell are we going?'.  I yelled again that I think we keep going straight and I kept going straight.  He just continued to run up the road in the opposite direction.  It was very strange because after a few miles, the rest of the race is almost all on the same main road.  As I went up and over the crest, I saw the leader up ahead.  I also realized that the way the 2nd place guy went up, had no outlet back onto the course so he was going to have a lot of ground to make up on me to catch back up as he would have to turn around and retrace his steps.  For me, there was never any sense of urgency.  I just kept thinking about keeping it near or under 6, nice and controlled.  At that pace, probably the only one who would catch me would be him.  But I was gaining on him from mile 2 so I wasn't so sure anyone was going to catch me IF my foot held together.

Photo by Melissa Garfield
Miles 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, etc. all had similar feel. I was slowly losing ground on the leader but barely.  I could see him the entire time because of the nature of the course, but I wasn't gaining on him.  I was locked into a state of holding back, pacing very controlled, and hitting 5:40s with very very little noticeable energy expenditure.  My cardio was rock solid.  But my foot was definitely holding me back.  It hadn't hurt at all, but each step I was expecting it to. I kept trying to forget about it after 6 or 7 miles and just thought about getting to halfway.  I was clicking through similar miles and really feeling like I put myself into good shape this winter despite the aches and pains.

I got to mile 10 in around 57:45 and felt pretty good. I started to feel slight issues in my hips and hamstring/calves but nothing I wouldn't expect after 10 miles given how things have been going.  I knew that the last time I had toed the line at this race I dropped between mile 10 and 11.  That was on my mind as I hit the 11 mile mark and recognized the lonely stretch of highway with the ocean on one side and the marsh on the other.  I pushed forward and hit a corner near 12 miles where Don was parked and the lead vehicle was sitting there waiting for the next few people.  He told me as I passed that the leader had about 90 seconds on me.  I knew that was probably the race unless he had serious issues.  He was at that point very slowly pulling away with each mile and I could tell.   I just focused at that point on keeping my 2nd place and more importantly keeping the pace going the same. It was really working for me and felt great.   There was the nice small climb up through the nice neighborhood near mile 13 and I got through that without any issues.  When I dropped back down onto the main route again and started mile 14, I started to feel like my legs were slightly now noticing the effort.  I was still completely fine cardio-wise but my legs were slowly tightening up.

Somewhere in the next couple miles, I hit Hampton and really started to fee like I was actually possibly going to make it.  My foot was completely a non-issue up to this point.  I was starting to weave through all the half-marathon people now (they start 7 miles closer to the finish and at the same time).  Typically around mile 13 for the 20 miler is where you start to catch the stragglers of the half marathon if you are running just under 2 hour tempo for the 20 miler.  It's actually a small little boost at times, as you get to pass people and they sometimes give you motivation.  Despite slowly feeling like I had been racing for 15 or so miles, I was still clicking off 5:4Xs.  It's amazing what pacing yourself does!  It is so much more enjoyable when you run even splits and feel in control and strong late in the race.

Miles 16, 17, 18 take you right along the boardwalk in Hampton Beach.  Somewhere in that stretch I started to get very mixed signals about where the leader was.  I had a group of girls running the half, tell me that I could 'catch him..he was right up ahead'.  Of course now with all the traffic and runners on the side of the road, it was hard to tell.  But I thought it sounded a little off.  Then I had a runner tell me as I passed, that he was only '20 seconds' up.  Of course I can see 20 seconds and there was no leader anywhere in sight.  Another person told me '1 or 2 minutes'.  That of course is a pretty big window.  I thought maybe he was rigging up and if so, I'd have a very late strike on my hands.  But I again had no intention of diverting from my plan and just kept the 5:4X streak going.  It was working for me quite well and I knew as I passed mile 17, that my car was right there in the Casino parking lot.  I would be able to bail if I needed to. I had made it.  But I looked up ahead now and set my sights on getting a surprise podium spot.  I was beginning to realize that I was going to run in the 1:55/1:56 range which with the exception of 2011, would put me right where I've always been at this race.  Pretty incredible really.

Mile 18 was a tad slow as I was starting to feel a bit tight in my hips.  I was weaving all through seas of half marathon people and was really starting to feel like I was going to do it.  It also has a very tight turn around the rotary and then an up and over of the bridge into Seabrook, NH.  That definitely slowed the mile down. I actually pushed on that mile and into the second to last mile.  There's some slight uphill over the course of that stretch and my miles 18 and 19 were slow just due to the course. I had picked up the intensity to try to salvage a decent time.  I was able to drop down the pace to an even 5:40 on the 20th mile and that came and went with the state line sign still off in the distance.  I still had 2 tenths of a mile to go!  I was 1:55:22 at 20 miles on my watch (57:37 for the second 10 miles).  I knew I'd be in the 1:56s at the end because of the longer course, but I was thrilled.  That put me 2nd fastest for the 20 split (give or take) that I had run here.  In the end, I came up through the finish in 1:56:32 and a big 2nd place with absolutely no foot issue during the race.  Being under 2:00:00 for that type of effort felt amazing.  20.2 miles.

I saw the leader right away, and went over to congratulate him on his race.  It was Adrian Macdonald who was 2nd last year in an amazing 1:49:45 behind Andy Huebner.  He lightheartedly told me that there was a significant tail wind last year almost the whole way.  I wish I had that luxury this year.  I cooled down with him for 10 minutes (1.3 miles) and chatted a bit about his marathon training.  He's running VCM.  He should do very well there.  He seemed like a really nice kid and ended up really putting some time into me over the last few miles, running a 1:53:23.

Total miles on the day, 23.5 miles.


Mile 01 - 6:01
Mile 02 - 5:54
Mile 03 - 5:51
Mile 04 - 5:45
Mile 05 - 5:43
Mile 06 - 5:42
Mile 07 - 5:36
Mile 08 - 5:42
Mile 09 - 5:46
Mile 10 - 5:41
Mile 11 - 5:46
Mile 12 - 5:46
Mile 13 - 5:46
Mile 14 - 5:40
Mile 15 - 5:43
Mile 16 - 5:46
Mile 17 - 5:43
Mile 18 - 5:48
Mile 19 - 5:50
Mile 20 - 5:40
Last 0.20 - 1:13

First 10 miles: 57:45
Second 10 miles: 57:37 (yes negative split...this is what happens when you just run even and relaxed)

Strava data:

 Overall I am super happy about the run.  It's unofficially my 2nd fastest run there factoring in the 20.2 mile distance.  It was 1 second slower (overall time) than I ran in 2009 though.  That stings a bit.

My history at this race (so far):

2015 - 2nd - 1:56:32 / 5:50 pace (based on 20) (5:46 pace based on 20.2 actual distance)
2013 - DNF at 11 miles
2011 - 2nd - 1:51:35 / 5:35 pace
2010 - 1st - 1:57:33 / 5:53 pace
2009 - 6th - 1:56:31 / 5:50 pace
2008 - 6th - 1:57:39 / 5:53 pace

After the race, I boarded the bus to go back to the Ashworth Hotel at Hampton Beach.  While on the bus, my damn foot started acting up again.  It was really strange.  Just sitting there it started again.  Thank God it was dormant during the entire race.  Not sure why, but I'll take it.

I got back to hotel, got something to eat, and stayed there for the awards.   There was some timing mixup with the times for the 20 miler as they ended up printing the results based on the clock for the half marathon rather than the 20 miler.  The two clocks were off by over a minute to a minute and a half.  So the races didn't start at exactly the same time.  I knew this when I came across the line.  They had me run over in the wrong side of the chutes through the half marathon side.  They were directing everyone over there.  I yelled that I was in the 20 miler, but they kept telling me to stay to the left side, which was wrong.  I looked over at the other clock on the right side, and it was matching my watch.  But they had me go through the half side.  Needless to say, they were wrong and of course, the times were all incorrect (and there are still people missing in the results as of my typing this).  So as they were calling off the awards and times, everyone was short-changed by almost 90 seconds or so.  I brought it to the attention of Jim Garcia who promptly made some phone calls and did some investigative work to begin to correct the problem with the timing company.  That battle still continues.

Then it was off and back up north for a couple hours as I barely made it back to my house before my car broke down.  Off to the shop this week to figure out how many thousands of dollars it is going to cost me this time.  Oh yeah, then, while making macaroni & cheese for myself and Tabby Rose, I bit into a hard pasta elbow and broke a huge piece of my molar off.  What a day.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March 28 (Saturday)

March 28 (Saturday) - Headed over to the Mill late morning to run on the mill but the place was mobbed.  People had just gotten on each treadmill and there were already people waiting. I immediately signed out and left.  Headed back home and just did an out and back to Darin's (5 miles) on the roads.   It was snowing pretty good and my foot was killing me. I woke up to a foot issue out of nowhere.  It's been bothering me all day. It's reminiscent of the foot pain that I had in the World 50k Championships in the Netherlands 4 years ago.   Not sure what brought it on, but it's really sharp shooting pain on the outside of the foot and is especially bad when I wiggle my toes.

On the plus side, we got an ad hoc family photo with the Easter Bunny down in Portsmouth today.  Tabby was too upset being by herself so we all had to get in the photo to calm her down.

Friday, March 27, 2015

March 27 (Friday)

March 27 (Friday) - 10 miles easy (roads) w/ Darin from my house after work.  Wandering around the neighborhoods of Silver Lake... Whipping Doc Brown into shape.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

March 26 (Thursday)

March 26 (Thursday) - 5 miles easy at lunch in North Conway (roads).  Then 9 miles later on at the Mill after work.  It started raining out later in the day and I didn't feel like going outside.   14 miles total.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

March 25 (Wednesday)

March 25 (Wednesday) - 5 miles at lunch on the roads down to Silver Lake.  Then after work, 10 miles with Doc Brown from my house, down to Colemans (plus a little bit on Ledge Pond Rd) and then back.  15 miles total.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 24 (Tuesday)

March 24 (Tuesday) - 5 miles at lunch up and down 113 to the dump and back.  I'll affectionately refer to this from now on as 'the dump run'.  My watch died about a mile from the house.  Later after work, 8 miles up and down E.Madison Rd. and up and back on Fox. Rd.  Nice day out... low 40s and NO WIND.  This whole winter thing may just end after all... 13 miles on the day.

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23 (Monday)

March 23 (Monday) - 8 miles on the mill.  Recovery day.

Surprisingly my hamstring and legs feel better today than they have in 2 weeks although that was before I ran on it.  The only thing that was aggravating me this morning was one of my toes because the nail was a bit too long... I think there is something to be said for just getting out there and shaking off the rust... Later on when I ran on the mill I did have some uncomfortable moments w/ the hamstring and calf but considering I've raced and worked out on it in the past week and it is still slightly getting better, I'm confident I can continue to do what I'm doing and keep moving slowly in the right direction.

Some additional shots I got from yesterday's 5 miler, courtesy of m51photo:

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March 22 (Sunday) - Paddy's 5 Miler

Richie Blake Photo
Race Article on Seacoast Online.

March 22 (Sunday) - 3 mile w/ up + 5 mile race + 2 mile cooldown = 10 miles.

Paddy's 5 Miler (results) in Portsmouth, NH.  Absolutely brutal day to try to run fast.  Probably the worst headwind I've ever had to cut through in a race.  I've had a couple of experiences with headwind strong enough to stop your progress almost completely but not for multiple miles like this.  The warmup and cooldown were almost comical when 'running' against the wind.  On the way down to the race, I was skeptical of the decision to even go because my car was practically blowing off the highway at times.  I got to the parking lot down at Pease Tradeport and could barely open the door. I actually thought about just going home.  Funny thing is that a couple of other people I talked to there thought the same thing (just turning around and going home).  I reluctantly registered though and had to spend all the extra time before the race, hunkered down in my car because the windchill was in the single digits and even standing in the tent was too cold and actually nerve-wracking when the wind picked up.

I warmed up w/ Dan Verrington for just over 3 miles of the course and it was obvious there was going to be some slow times. The course is very flat with only a couple of small rolling hills at the end.  It's a PR course or close to it, if the conditions are right.  There is one cone turnaround which is different than the USATF certified map, but besides that, it's pretty fast.  However with 40-50mph wind gusts, it was going to be a sh*tshow for at least half the race. My goal became to try to win and run as hard as I could despite the challenges.  There were a few fast guys there including Derek Hamel whom I have never run against before.  When he started running and winning a lot of NH and Seacoast races, I had kind of moved away from doing a lot of those and we never overlapped until today. He's been running well for a couple years now and Casey Carroll was also there.  He's usually dangerous as well and just came off a nice win last weekend in Dover.  He's fit as usual.  My hamstring was sore and tight, but manageable.   By the time the race went off, I didn't even notice it which is great. It's sore now though as I write this, of course.

I wore long tights and man was that a great decision.  By the mile mark, my hands were completely frozen.  I couldn't feel any of my fingers at all.  My bathing suit area was also rather frozen.  I towed along Derek for the first mile, which I think was just south of 5 minutes (funny how the tailwind doesn't feel like anything at all but it does make a difference).  I kept glancing over a few times and could see him lingering.  I knew miles 1.5 to 3 would be BRUTAL and 3.75 to the end were going to be the worst.  That's basically it in a nutshell.  I calmed down after the mile and settled into a cadence while the wind was in check.  I was 10:07 or so through 2 with a little bit of wind but then it was almost un-runnable at times.  I finally hit the 3 mile turnaround (around a cone) after trying to cut through the wall of wind that was almost comical at times, and you now had about .75 of a mile of again, an unnoticeable tailwind before the nightmare last mile and change.  I had a decent lead at the turnaround but not sure of the time.  I was too focused on trying to feel my hands.  Derek was still in 2nd but Casey was right behind him and looking strong.  Bob Wiles (the announcer for the race) told me after that just past the turnaround, Casey made a move and pulled away.

I moved along against traffic for a bit and felt great but then the turn up the hills and directly into the wind sucked any of the life I had, completely out of my legs.  It was like running under water.  The last stretch back up to Paddy's had to have been far north of 6 minutes but my current fitness was enough to pull me through ahead of the field.  I have got to think (after talking to a few people there who agreed on the time) that it was 1:30 or so slow today. I know I am in south of 26 shape for sure and today should have been there if it wasn't for the weather.  It's been a long while since I had a road race affected to this degree.  'Maybe' one year at ES20 it was bad, but not like this.  I heard a couple years ago at the race it was nearly the same deal.  I ended up with a 27:22 which was completely mind boggling that I ran that fast today.  I was thinking before the race that sub 30 would be good in those gusts.  To run 27 mid is a great sign.  Maybe some weekend this year, another 5 miler will creep up and I can get another shot at running a 'quick' time, but the effort was certainly legit today.  And I got the win, which felt great.   I love running in Portsmouth and can't wait for many more runs in the Seacoast this year.

It was great catching up with some folks today.  I haven't really talked to Dan Verrington a lot in some time, so it was great to chat with him on the warmup and after the race.  It was great catching up w/ Bob Wiles as well.  I hung out w/ some of the acidotic folks after the race (Phil and Scott) and talked shop before hitting the road and heading north (with a $100 bucks more in my pocket).

I had to make a stop in East Wakefield to try to dig some paths out for my parents when they come back from their winter vacation next week.  It took me over an hour to make a 12 foot pathway to their front door, through a mountain of snow and ice.  I have a lot more to do but am going to wait a few days for the temps to warm up and for some of the snow and ice to melt.

On the way back from Wakefield, I took the scenic route and hit up Joe Viger's house in Freedom to pick up my award for winning the Northeast Snowshoe Championships back a few weeks ago.  It's a sweet metal print that stands out from the wall when you hang it.  It looks amazing.  Special thanks to Joe for putting it together and Chris Dunn for commissioning him for the awards.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

March 21 (Saturday)

March 21 (Saturday) - 8 miles easy with Downtown Darin Brown in Madison from my house.  Hamstring sore.  What else is new.   I was originally tinkering with going down to Concord for a 5k today but was up almost all night with Tabby Rose. She rips an all-nighter about once every 2 months and it's usually right before I want to do a race.  So needless to say I was watching television at 3am while she was playing with the Paw Patrol.  Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was on and my rule is that if she's keeping me up, we are watching what I want to watch...

Friday, March 20, 2015

March 20 (Friday)

March 20 (Friday) - Very easy 5 miles late in the day on the roads up and back to Downtown Darin Brown's house on Lead Mine Rd.  Still a decent amount of ice on the road but not too bad.  Quads still sore from doing those mile repeats on tight legs.  I'm amazed at how long it's taking to shake the pain away in these legs since the last snowshoe race... Still looking for normalcy.  Side note... this was the first time I've been on Lead Mine Road at all since October.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March 19 (Thursday)

March 19 (Thursday) - 10 miles easy on the mill after work.  Got there a little earlier than usual and pinned up a giant poster of Kevin that I had made up special, and stared at it for 75 minutes for inspiration.

In other running news, a very interesting statement by the team known for one of the best uniforms in New England, the Western Mass Distance Project (statement link).   They are basically boycotting the USATF-NE Grand Prix this year (and maybe for coming years).  Looks like there are multiple reasons...some are pretty obvious.  Give the article a glance.

I'm unintentionally (individually) boycotting the USATF-NE GP just because I'm not a fan of most of the races from year to year.  It has got nothing to do with race quality and certainly nothing to do with any RDs, volunteers, etc.  They all do a great job I'm sure.   I've done enough GPs over the years and have come to the conclusion that I just don't like building my schedule around races I wouldn't normally go to (if they weren't New England Championship races).  I want to run the races I want to run and compete in series I want to compete in, based on my interest in the race, the town it's held in, the distance, etc.  If some of those happen to coincide with the Grand Prix, great.  If not, I'm not really worried about it anymore.  I used to be very excited about the GP but now, after all that is happened with USATF over the last couple years plus me getting grouchy in my old age,  I really didn't even want to sign up for my membership this year....the only reason I really did (finally) is because if I do decided to do a GP race, I'd need to be a member so I could score for the team.  I was pumped for Vermont City at the end of last year when we voted for the slates and really wanted to do it, but I kind of bailed on that idea later in the winter after really sitting down and thinking about my race plans and goals.  It conflicts with some other races I want to do and it isn't a distance I'm interested in training for right now (not that I've trained for any marathons I've ever done since 2010 but still)... I will most certainly regret not going as I probably can do well at the marathon this Spring, but I've made the decision to not focus on it and run a few other races I enjoy this Spring instead.  In looking at the GP schedule for me, personally I think I would be up for the Hollis 5k in June, maybe Bobby Doyle in August, and perhaps the Seasons 20k and Lone Gull 10k in September.  Right now, I can't see many conflicts with those races and would probably be in for those.  Hopefully not only will I be healthy for those races by that time, but also my teammates as well.  I do miss coming across the line, turning around, and seeing a hoard of CMS jerseys come blasting in as I count places and try to figure out how much we won by.  Those were great days.  This year, I'll probably be coming across the line after pointing up ahead and counting how many CMS guys finished ahead of me, and trying to figure out if we won or not :).... But I'll take either one.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 18 (Wednesday)

March 18 (Wednesday) - AM: 5 miles (mill) in the am.  Very easy. 40:00.   PM: Then after work,  a workout (mill).  2 mile warmup (16:00) + 6 x 1 mile @ 5:10.  400m (@7:37 pace) continuous rest in between each mile. 7.25 miles (including rest) in 40:32.  Then 1.75 mile cooldown (14:00).  11 miles.  The miles felt completely controlled and comfortable (as I was anticipating they would at that pace...not exactly blasting but not slow...probably anticipated 10k pace give or take).  Right hamstring and calf were bad as expected.  Hamstring is the worst but it stayed in check. I ran with it wrapped and with a couple pairs of tights on (ridiculous I know but I wanted to keep the muscles in check).  It was hot, but manageable.  Fitness is there, just need to keep watching the hamstring and calf.   Happy to get the workout in.  Was thinking of only doing 3 but when I got to 3, I decided to do 4.  When I got to 4, I decided to do 5.  When I got to 5, I decided to do 6.  Then I came to my senses and stopped.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

March 17 (Tuesday)

March 17 (Tuesday) - 5 miles (roads) Solo.  Madison roads very easy at lunch  (37:52).  Wind was awful later in the day.  Headed over to the mill after work to do another 8 or so but when I got there the power went out (there were down trees all over the place and one of the branches laying across the power lines on E. Madison was on fire when I drove under it both on the way to the mill and on the way home).  I waited for a while but it wasn't coming back on so I just came home.  Figured that was a sign.

Happy St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16 (Monday)

March 16 (Monday) - 10.2 miles (roads) - Solo. Out and back along Silver Lake - 1:09:31.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Catching up - From NH Champs through March 15

I fell off a little bit after the snowshoe season wrapped up 2 weekends ago as far as the daily blogging goes.  Right after finishing the NH Championships up at Castle in the Clouds I had a very sore and tight right leg (hamstring, calf, and achilles).  I needed a recovery week (+) to make sure I didn't continue to do any damage.  My body was telling me to calm down a bit so I obliged.  I had just put together over 4 months of quality base and some workouts but mostly all on the treadmill, which started to take it's toll (as it did to me last year about this time).  It's nothing I haven't gone through before but it was enough to make me think twice about running / racing through it and possibly spoil the rest of my plans for the Spring.  So I backed off.  I didn't miss any days, but did drop the volume and intensity down significantly.  I got outside a few times and really just tried to do my best to heal up.  It's still an issue, but it's getting slightly better.   I missed a race opportunity last Saturday (there were a number of NH races I was planning on choosing between but alas I decided to rest and not risk it).  I obviously didn't go to New Bedford to help the team out, but even if I was planning on doing that, I wouldn't have made the line.  I'm just glad I didn't waste the team's money as NB isn't cheap.

Here's what I was up to during the down week...

Sunday (March 8) - 8 miles (slow) on the mill very late in the day (60:00).  Very uncomfortable w/ leg very sore.
Monday (March 9) 6.2 miles (snowmobile trails) (49:50).  Still very tight/sore.  Stayed flat and soft on the trails.
Tuesday (March 10) 10 miles (roads) (65:05).  Still very tight/sore.  Ran a hilly loop and really worked this one to try to shake loose but it probably made things worse.
Wednesday (March 11) 10 miles (roads) (1:11:23).  Still very tight/sore.  Went flat and easy on the roads. Both calfs actually sore this time.
Thursday (March 12) 6 miles (mill) (45:00).  Same deal.  Manageable but hamstring is the main issue right now.  Very easy run on the mill to avoid a day off...but backing way off.
Friday (March 13) - 5 miles (roads) (35:17).  Still not the best but getting through runs to at least get some work in and not sit on my backside.  Backing off and trying to give the body time to bounce back.  Still up until today, toying with trying to do a race in the morning.
Saturday (March 14) 5 miles (mill) (40:00).  Got up early to test out the legs and maybe head down to a race but it was a good decision to stay put.  Waited until very late in the day and ran a VERY easy short run on the mill.
Sunday (March 15) 5 miles (mill) (40:00).  Same deal as yesterday.  Waited until the end of the day and jogged on the mill.  Took this week as a down / rest week in between the snowshoe and road season.  Had to convince myself to stop obsessing over numbers and just do right by my body and let it heal.

47.2 miles for the down week but no days off.  Actually got outside a couple times so by proxy, I got over 1800ft of gain for just going down the street from my house.  Looking forward to the spring for sure.  Right now the temps are low, the snow is still occasionally flying, the wind is howling, and my hamstring is still an issue but it's a lot better than it was a week ago...and I've been doing all the necessary things (short of taking time completely off) and I think the more I get outside and run the roads / trails, the sooner this will go away.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 7 (Saturday) - NH and Northeast Snowshoe Championship

Joe Viger photo.

March 7 (Saturday) - 2.5 warmup + 6.2 mile race + 2.4 mile cooldown = 11.1 miles total.

Saturday morning I made my way over to Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, NH for the NH and Northeast Snowshoe Championships (results).  This was the last race in the 2015 Granite State Snowshoe Series.  Although this was my 7th completion of the series in a row (2009-2015) it is the 5th time I've done the NH State Championship individual race.  It didn't exist in the first year of the series and I skipped this particular race in 2011 because of Snowshoe Nationals happening on the same weekend.  But I've won the race each of the other times (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014).  In 2010 it was a tie for 1st w/ KT up at Great Glen.   Each year, the championship race is 10K.  The last couple years, the race has been down in Allenstown, NH.  It was a nice bonus to have this race be so close to home this year and hopefully there will be more races at Castle in the Clouds in the future.  It's only about 21 miles from my house (probably half that distance as the crow flies).

The pre-registration list for this event looked pretty solid with a lot of good road and trail guys throwing their names in the hat for this one.  The race also served as a stop on the LevelRenner All Terrain Series, so it was a who's who of guys all seeking the All Terrain crown for 2015.  Leading up to this one, my hamstring has been pretty sore and I had to scale back a little on some days to try to rest up and make sure I wouldn't have a problem with this up and down course. The course consisted of basically 100% single track (despite I think being described as 80:20).  The beginning and end may have been technically double track but essentially the entire race was a single track trail packed down a couple days ahead of time.  The elevation profile showed around 1300 feet of gain and I only quickly glanced at it, but it 'looked' like it was basically all up for half of it and then all down for the second half.  So the longer distance + all single track + one big long climb = not exactly a race in my wheelhouse...but I wasn't about to skip out on this one.

I warmed up around the castle grounds w/ Chris Mahoney and Todd Callaghan (just two of a slew of CMS guys all lining up for this one).  Then I threw on my snowshoes for one last stretch of running before the race began.   I noticed Scott Leslie (CMS) and Alex Hall (Whirlaway) warming up, along with Chad Carr and a few others that gave me reason to believe this would be a very good race.  The person I was most concerned with burying me was Kevin Tilton (CMS) who has been running basically almost entirely on snowshoes this winter and who has logged plenty of miles up and down mountains in the snow since the start of the year.  He was setting himself up perfectly for this one.  I on the other hand, was coming off of some great months of treadmill running at 0% incline.  Not exactly what it takes to do well at this type of racing, but then again this really isn't what I've been focusing on.  I still kept thinking that the work I had put in was certainly going to still keep me in the mix though.  My plan was to get out to my normal start and not screw around.  I've done this enough times to know about the single track race strategy and sitting behind people has burned me in the past.  I don't want to monkey around with having to sit behind someone in a field of this caliber.  I wanted to get out front right away, then, if someone (Kevin) wanted to pass me later on, I'd let that happen...but until then, I wanted to be out and on my way without anyone else dictating my pace, especially early in the race.

As the command was given for the last time this year, I was out to the front (basically unopposed for the 20 yard sprint into the trail) and hit the single track into the woods with Kevin a little bit behind and then the train immediately stretched out.  The trail was a little rough in spots early, but it seemed to get a little better as the race stretched out in the first mile.  I had to tell myself about a half mile or so in, to calm down a bit...I was reminding myself that it was a 10k and there was some climbing to be had.  I was almost sure that Kevin was going to eat me up on the climb and it was only a matter of time.  To be honest, I don't mind when that happens.  It's almost the only time in a race where I don't care when someone goes past me.  He excels at steep, hard climbing and the worse the conditions and footing, the better for him.  I go in the opposite direction.  I'm not exactly a slouch when it comes to climbing, but it isn't my strong point.  I had almost no doubt he'd go by me by 2 miles or so...if not, definitely by the top.  I've run with him enough to know he thrives in those conditions and my expectations are realistic in those moments of a race...

Joe Viger photo.
Joe Viger photo.
I continued to press on and the climb didn't seem that bad. I kept thinking it would get worse but it really never did.   There were occasional steep parts but then they'd morph into a flat or slight downhill and I was able to recover and stretch out.  Kevin kept catching me on the steep climbs and would go from appearing like he was dropping back, to getting right up almost within talking distance at times.  I occasionally looked back on the turns to try to assess the damage behind.  I could see Chris Mahoney early on, in third...but by a mile or so, it looked like Kevin was going to be the only one I was going to really worry about unless something happened with my calf or hamstring.  Kevin's bright orange top assured me that I would always be able to quickly determine where he was with barely a glance.  There was one or two moments where I was sure he'd be rolling up on me and I was prepared to move the hell out of the way when that happened.  I could hear him clearing his throat, which is usually the kiss of death for me on a climb.  That tells me he's now close enough to strike.  I just kept pushing and the goal became to try to beat him to the top or at least, if he passed me, to stay within striking distance for the descent.

The trail was narrow and dicey in spots, but fairly runnable just about the entire way.  There were a couple of tricky turns here and there but for the most part, it wasn't anything that was impacting my progress.  I think the race, conditions-wise, was timed perfectly.  Another week and it would have been a true nightmare on the trails.  As I came up to the 3 mile mark (on my watch) I saw Dave Dunham out on the trail at what appeared to be the top of the course.  I had heard just before the race that it was almost 4 miles or so of climb, so I thought there was still more to go.  When I went by DD I had only 10 seconds on Kevin.  Dave had told Kevin as he passed about the time gap.  That was still way too close for comfort.  Only one stumble and he's got me.  I started to work the downhill a bit and as more and more time went by, I started to think that this was all the climb.  I got my second wind and opened it up a little bit more on the way down.

Photo by DD.  KT in the background around Mile 3.

As I continued to drop down, I seemingly opened a little more up on my lead and after a while, I couldn't see Kevin behind any longer except on the long straightaway sections.  I was just hoping to be able to hold off for the entire 6+ miles.  Somewhere around 4.25 or so, I took a header right into the snow on the way down a steep drop.  I had stepped off the trail just slightly and sunk straight down.  I immediately pounced up and continued to roll, as now I thought for sure I was going to be caught because of that mistake.  Before long, I opened up into the start/finish area and saw and heard all the people at the finish.  I glanced at my watch and saw it was only reading around 4.5 miles or so. I thought to myself quickly that the course was going to be way short but I was glad I was done...then I realized that the course looped away from the finish and back into the woods for one more smaller loop.  I immediately went from excitement to dread again.  I popped back into the woods and noticed that I was starting to climb again....a LOT.  I did not remember this on the course map or elevation profile but then again, like always, I never study it close enough.  I started to rig up on the last climb pretty fierce.  It was probably the steepest climb of the day and switched back and forth through the trees.  I felt myself almost starting to walk.  Near the top of the first steep climb up, I peeked back and saw Kevin's orange top (with Kevin in it) climbing up behind me.  I immediately thought again that he'd catch me.  I was thinking what a shame that would be to get caught 5+ miles in.  Once the trail flattened out a bit, I stretched out the legs but then it climbed again.  This time though, I felt my next gear kick in and I blasted up that last climb and started to drop a little afterwards which gave me that added boost after that bad patch.

Scott Mason photo.
Scott Mason photo. 
Somewhere after that, and after some quick ups and downs, I popped out onto a nice corner ledge and saw Scott Mason perched up there taking pictures.  He told me about the nice downhill that was about to start, and that's all I needed to stretch it out again.  I was starting to finally now think that if I just worked the downhill enough, I'd be able to win this one.  I dropped down a couple of switchbacks and hit the low spot on the course where I saw Don Fredrikson on the side of the trail taking some photos.  He promptly told me that it was 'all downhill from here', although right after I passed him, I started to climb up a little again, but it was negligible.  After a small little stretch of up and down, left and right, I popped out finally back to the start/finish area and this time, I could make my way for home.

Scott Mason photo.

50 feet from the finish, my right calf cramped up fierce.  I timed it just right.  I had no issues throughout the race other than not being in climbing shape.  But just before the line, my calf rigged up.  I hobbled across in 45:15.  I ended up finishing only 44 seconds up on Kevin, who seemed to pop around the corner as soon as I turned around at the finish.  Chris Mahoney (CMS) was overtaken along the way by Ethan Nedeau (aR).  Chris had a great few races in the series this year and he'll no doubt have a great year this year with his racing... hopefully he decides to tackle the snowshoe series next year.

After the race, I cooled down with a large group of guys around the castle grounds and up to the castle, which is all boarded up for the winter.  I promptly bonked on the way down and stumbled into the after party on fumes.

Joe Viger photo...

This wrapped up my 7th straight series title and capped off a rather bittersweet winter.  I wasn't too excited about snowshoe racing this year for some reason (midlife crisis?). The racing was fun as it always is, but the snowshoe running for training just wasn't there and wasn't appealing to me this year. I have been daydreaming about the roads all winter and have been just staying indoors or on the roads this year for training... but I couldn't drag myself away from the Granite State Series.  I will probably stubbornly do this series every year until I get banned from it for some reason. :)

Top 3 from the final race. Ethan Nedeau, JJ, and Kevin L. Tilton.  Scott Mason photo.

Top 20 Overall (plus CMS in blue):

1  45:157:25Jim Johnson       CMS                   37Madison NH      
2  45:597:33Kevin Tilton      CMS                   33North Conway NH 
3  48:518:01Ethan Nadeau      ACIDOTIC RACING       42Everett MA      
4  50:038:13Chris Mahoney     CMS                   37Westford MA     
5  51:578:31Todd Callaghan    CMS                   45Beverly MA      
6  52:228:35Damon Gannon                            46Topsham ME      
7  52:428:39Alex Hall         WHIRLAWAY             27Hanover NH      
8  53:038:42David Martino                           22Laconia NH      
9  53:088:43James Pawlicki    CMS                   40Lynn MA         
10  54:368:58Josh Fields       ACIDOTIC RACING       26Claremont NH    
11  54:499:00Chad Carr         CAMBRIDGE RUNNING CLUB39Cambridge MA    
12  55:189:04Scott Leslie      CMS                   33Rutland MA      
13  55:489:09Jonathan Miller                         45Sanbornville NH 
14  56:429:18Kasie Enman       GMAA                  35Huntington VT   
15  56:539:20Amber Ferreira    ACIDOTIC RACING       32Concord NH      
16  56:559:20Danny Ferreira    ACIDOTIC RACING       32Concord NH      
17  57:299:26Derek Burton      SWEETIE PIES          22Sanbornton NH   
18  57:499:29Leslie O'Dell     CMS                   38Albany NH       
19  57:519:29Daniel Verrington CMS                   52Bradford MA     
20  58:229:35Chuck Hazzard     TRAIL MONSTER RUNNING 54Freeport ME 
251:01:230:04Sam Wood          CMS                   28Laconia NH 
301:03:360:26Jennifer Brooks   CMS                   35Gloucester MA 
631:19:343:03Jim Grady         CMS                   53Auburn MA 
681:22:463:35David Lapierre    CMS                   50Chelmsford MA   

131 Total Finishers.

Strava Data:

Some Photosets:

Gianina Lindsey (snapacidotic)
Scott Mason
Joe Viger

Friday, March 6, 2015

March 6 (Friday)

March 6 (Friday) - 6 miles very easy at lunch on the mill.   Another 6 miles very easy after work on the mill.  Hamstring is still bothering me.  Been stretching and massaging but it just fires up again on the treadmill.  Same thing as last year towards the end of the winter.

Side note...got this very suspicious looking package in the mail today... His contact information has been blurred out to protect the innocent... I put this disk in my computer shortly after this picture was taken and....well.... I'll never look at running the same again.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March 5 (Thursday)

March 5 (Thursday) - 8 miles easy at lunch on the mill.  Was about to head back out to do another run after work but thought better of it.  Hamstring has been bothering me a little since after the workout on Tuesday. It's just getting to be that time of year again...lots of miles on the treadmill starting to add up.  Need to get outside for some real running once the weather warms up a bit and the roads clear.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March 4 (Wednesday)

March 4 (Wednesday) - 5.4 miles on the roads of E.Madison and Madison Corner.  Nice and easy on a beautiful afternoon.  Then 6.6 miles after work on the mill to round out the quota for the day.  Recovery day from workout last night.

Picked up a copy of New Hampshire magazine tonight...you'll find my Q&A on training for a marathon on pages 24/25.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 3 (Tuesday)

March 3 (Tuesday) - 6 miles at lunch on the roads in Madison.  Beautiful day out there.  Took it easy and just rolled down to the small town beach on the west side of the lake and then headed back.

After work, I headed over to the Mill for a workout.  2 mile warmup (16:00) and then 4 x 2 miles with .25 in between each.  Hit 10:36 / 10:38 / 10:37 / 10:34.   Decent workout.  Probably could have done a couple more without much issue.  The only thing that was remotely an issue was the pounding on the treadmill getting to my legs a little bit.  Hit the .25 in between each set in about 2:10-2:15.  10 minute cooldown (1.25 miles).  1:14:55 for 12 miles.  18 miles on the day.

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2 (Monday)

March 2 (Monday) - 6 miles on the roads at lunch relatively quick (6:18 pace) up and down East Madison Rd.  Felt good getting out with the bird chirping and some of the snow melting.  Stretching and massage after.  Legs a little tight still from last week so I bailed on additional junk mileage afterwards.

Good race report here by my CMS teammate Patrick Rich on his experience at Caumsett this past weekend.  This guy had an absolutely monster training cycle this winter training for this race but alas it wasn't in the cards yesterday for him... He'll be up to some pretty amazing things this year I have absolutely no doubt.

photo of the start courtesy of @PatrickSRich

Sunday, March 1, 2015

March 1 (Sunday) and Weekly Summary

March 1 (Sunday) - 10 miles on the mill at the mill nice and easy late in the day.

Weekly Summary:

Another good week of running but a little near the danger zone mileage-wise. I need to be smart so I can continue pushing forward this year without issues cropping up.  I got a pretty nice workout in on Tuesday that felt pretty controlled and then had a good race this weekend at the night race in Madbury (also felt very controlled).  My 6th win in a row in 7 races this year so far (5 snowshoe and 1 road).  This was also a pretty solid wrap-up of the short month of February.  I got 334.8 miles in in February (just about 12 per-day average).  That is my highest February mileage-wise, ever (by about 22 miles....previous best was back in 2009).

Miles: 90
Runs: 11
Races: 1
Longest Run: 14 miles

Monday: AM: 6 miles on the treadmill. 45:00.  PM: 8 miles on the treadmill. 60:00
Tuesday: PM: 14 miles on the treadmill as a workout: 2 mile w/up + 10 mile tempo (57:10) + 2 mile cooldown. Total time: 1:27:10
Wednesday: AM: 6 miles on the treadmill. 41:51.  PM: 8 miles on the treadmill. 60:00
Thursday: PM: 10 miles on the treadmill. 69:40.
Friday: AM: 6 miles on the treadmill. 41:45.  PM: 6 miles on the treadmill. 41:48
Saturday: AM: 5 miles on the treadmill.  40:00.  PM: 11 miles total with 3.7 mile warmup on roads and snowshoes then 4.3 mile snowshoe race + 3 mile cooldown on the roads.
Sunday: PM: 10 miles on the treadmill.