Dare Mighty Things

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those timid spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." -Teddy Roosevelt

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Warm Coat

Strafford, NEW HAMPSHIRE--aR is very excited to announce a new partnership with One Warm Coat to help get warm coats to local people in need. At each of our snowshoe races we will collect coats to be given directly to local agencies who have been identified as willing to accept these donations and get them to people in the most need. Donating a coat couldn't be any easier. aR will be collecting clean, gently used coats and jackets as part of the One Warm Coat community service project. Coats of all shapes sizes are welcome. One Warm Coat is dedicated to distributing reusable coats, free of charge, directly to local children and adults. The program is an easy way for you and your family to pass along coats and jackets that you no longer need. “More people than ever need help these days. I am proud of the thousands of coat drive organizers whose creativity and generosity of spirit are making a real difference in their own communities.” commented Sherri Wood, President and National Coordinator for One Warm Coat. Our first coat drive will take place during our January 23, 2010 Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble at King Pine & Purity Spring Resort. You can drop off your donated coats right at our pre-race registration. Please join us in our effort to make sure everyone has a warm coat this winter.

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One Warm Coat is national non-profit organization that supports and encourages coat drives. It helps individuals, groups, companies and organizations across the country collect coats and deliver them to local agencies that distribute the coats free to people in need. More than one million coats have been provided to those in need at no cost since its inception in 1992.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Beaver Brook (Unofficial)

Hollis, NEW HAMPSHIRE -- A significant early December snowfall last week resulted in a very pleasant surprise...a snowshoe race before Christmas! This was way too tempting to pass up. We've only had adequate snow cover for snowshoeing for less than two weeks here in southern NH. I had been in my snowshoe's a grand total of three times this fall (it's still technically fall isn't it?) but undeterred I headed southwest to Hollis, NH this morning for the Beaver Brook 5k Snowshoe Race hosted by Michael at 3C Race Productions. The objective today was twofold; 1.) get recon on the course (it's the first race in the GSSS) and 2.) assess my early season snowshoe racing-specific fitness. Despite the race being announced as a snowshoe race less than 4 days ago there was actually a pretty decent turnout (27 snowshoers). aR was pretty well represented with training partner Geoff Cunningham making his debut after more than a year off from the sport due to injury, along with newcomers Mike O'Connor and Leah Kovitch. Rounding out the aR crew were veteran 'shoers Gary Reuter, Scott Graham, and Michael Amarello (who raced the course yesterday...his typical strategy as RD). Before the start Geoff and I warmed up with 2009 GSSS Champion Jim Johnson. The race was shaping up as a two horse field with everyone else bidding for the last spot on the podium. At the start command Mike O'Connor jumped the field and ran hard for the first tight right hand turn approximately 100 meters uphill from the line. With Jim and Geoff hot on his tails the rest of the field quickly got in line. Within 400 meters of the start Geoff and Jim had reeled Mike in and spit him to the back. I quickly got behind Mike and let him pull me to the turnaround on this out and back course. As we made the turn around the cones he stepped to the side and let me pass. I encouraged him to let me pull him for a while and off we went. The trek back to the start was slightly uphill but I felt comfortable and managed to find a rhythm. I glanced back over my shoulder during the final climb but didn't see Mike or Scott who were racing for 4th & 5th. I finished the roughly 4.5 km course in 19:32 and 3rd overall behind Jim and Geoff. Mike was only :30 behind me and Scott :30 behind him. Great racing all around. As far as my objectives, 1.) downhill to the turnaround and uphill on the way back and 2.) I've got some work to do but I'm very pleased with the effort today.

Results from Coolrunning.com.

NEXT UP: Beaver Brook 5k (GSSS #1)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2010 Preview

I enjoy irony. There's something wonderfully ironic (and beautiful) about a winter sunrise. I'll let you figure it out. The time for reflection is over. Last week marked the beginning of my 2010 preparation. My ambitions will be tempered in volume only. Twenty-one races in 2009 was a lot for me. The plan for 2010 is to race less and focus on three objectives; 1.) age-group podium at the US Snowshoe Championships, 2.) PR at Pineland, and 3.) win King of the Glen. The benefit of nearly 20 years of training and racing is an intimate understanding of my ability. I'm rarely disappointed at a performance because I typically know exactly what to expect. I'm excited at the possibility of pursuing these three varied objectives. This is how I plan to do it;

1.) Age-group podium at US Snowshoe Championships
The expansion of the Granite State Snowshoe Series was a blessing for me athletically. I plan to race seven (7) events including six (6) in the series;
1. Beaver Brook 5k Snowshoe Race
2. Olde Salem Greens Snowshoe Classic (*non-Series)
3. Feel Good Farm Snowshoe Race
4. Sidehiller 4 Mile Snowshoe Race
5. Exeter Snowshoe Hullabaloo
6. Horsehill 7k Snowhoe Race
7. Frosty's Dash for a Cure

This will be the most aggressive snowshoe racing schedule I've ever attempted and should prime me for the March 6, 2010 US Snowshoe Association National Championships.

2.) PR at Pineland
My favorite race of the year is the Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge. It may also be the most physically challenging as well. Preparation for the May 30, 2010 event will begin in late March after a 2 week transition period following the snowshoe racing season. The one important race leading up to Pineland will be the Big Lake 1/2 Marathon which I intend on racing again. I have no performance expectations for this event, it's simply a great motivator to put in the necessary mileage for both Pineland and the longer challenge planned later in June.

After Pineland the focus will shift briefly to the Ultimate XC Challenge-Quebec in late June. This will be my second time at Ultimate, but first time in Canada. This is my "epic" event of 2010.

3.) Win King of the Glen
This really doesn't mean anything to anyone other than me. My 24 Hours of Great Glen teammates understand the accomplishment that this "inside" award represents and frankly that's enough for me. I was third in the KOG at the '09 24HOGG and I know excatly how to shave a couple of minutes here and there and seriously contend for the title at the August 7-8, 2010 event.

Although my training will be focused on these objectives from now until the 24HOGG in August, there's still three months of racing left in the late summer and early fall of 2010. Karen & I are very excited to join the "1000 Mile Club" at the Reach The Beach Relay in early September of 2010. This year will mark our 5th time at the event. In October, the last two events on my calendar will likely be the Pinnacle Challenge VI and the MNT Epic. The Pinnacle is a great aR team event and the MNT Epic was a fantastic late season gem. There's some talk that the 2010 MNT Epic may include a team category which will make even more exciting.

Now there's a great deal of work to be done.

"The height of your accomplishments will equal the depth of your convictions." -William F. Scolavino

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reflections-2009

Pittsfield, VERMONT--The Death Race was my only DNF of the season. In fact, it was my first individual DNF in the 20 years I've been racing. So why lead a recap of the 2009 season with the most glaring failure of the year? I do it as a reminder that 'success' is a relative construct. Without failure, success doesn't exist. The Death Race was a tremendous experience despite the fact I didn't finish and it reminded me of the importance of perseverance. My competitive season runs from December through October. Although I realize there are a number of very interesting and tempting events in November I have found that I need 4-6 weeks to recover physically and mentally from nearly 11 months of training and racing. Not to mention, I need the time to get caught up on things around the house I've been ignoring for nearly a year. The 21 races I competed in during the '09 season was easily the most I have ever attempted. It was a fitting way to celebrate being 40 years old. And from a performance standpoint, it was the most successful as well as nearly every time out I met or exceeded expectations. The revamped training schedule, which included two "transition periods" during the competitive season, resulted in an injury-free high energy 2009. As daylight shortens and the leaves change here are my reflections on an incredible year;

Favorite Events
1. Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge
2. 24 Hours of Great Glen
3. Reach The Beach Relay

The events at the Pineland Farms Trail Challenge are billed as the toughest trail races in Maine. Having raced the MNT EPIC at Sunday River last month I'd perhaps question that assertion but there's no denying that for the third year in a row the PFTC is my favorite event of the year! The combination of an incredibly challenging course, great team competition, free beer, and BBQ make this race a pure winner and the first I schedule every year. The 24HOGG is a three day festival-like experience in an incredible setting with great teammates. The '09 version included both my son (Brayden) and my brother (Jay) along with teammates Ted Hall, Steve Sprague, Austin Stonebraker, Nick Pennell, and Steve Wolfe. The addition of RealTime scoring made the race incredibly interactive as the two aR entries raced each other back and forth from cannon to cannon. Karen and I have now raced the RTB Relay for four consecutive years. As exhausting as driving 200+ and running 20+ miles is, the team camaraderie at this race is unmatched. I can't wait for 2010!

Top Individual Performances
1. Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge (15th overall, 1:54:19, *PR*)
2. Big Lake 1/2 Marathon (20th overall, 1:27:01)
3. Bow Lake Dam 15k (10th overall, 1:02:12)

Setting a PR two years after the initial mark was satisfying enough, but doing it on this course made it special. Without a doubt, teammate Brent Tkaczyk made it possible as we raced together the entire time. Our early patience and his strong finish pulled us both to a Top 15 overall performance. The Big Lake 1/2 Marathon was the first road 1/2 marathon I've ever raced. Although familiar with the course, I had no idea what to expect from a performance standpoint. To run 6:39's and finish in the Top 20, 2nd in my age group, and 3rd overall master was more than I expected. The Bow Lake Dam 15k was run on my "home turf". I had trained on the course through the spring and battled some brutally cold wet weather. My training times always seemed slow as "the mile climb" seemed to take it's toll every time. On race day the running gods smiled on us with excellent weather. Racing with teammate Steve Wolfe we set a great early pace and raced near the front of the pack. I felt so good that it was only near the middle of "the hill" that I realized we were climbing! My 6:40 pace on this very hilly course and Top 10 finish were very satisfying.

Top Team Performances
1. Granite State Snowshoe Series (Champions)
2. Frigid Infliction (1st All Male)
3. Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge (2nd Team)

In the first year of the GSSS our aR teammates made a statement that we are the strongest snowshoe racing team in New England. Both outstanding individual performances and great team turnout resulted in our resounding victory. Racing with Austin & Jay, we finished on top of the podium for the second straight year at the Frigid Infliction Winer Adventure Race. At the Pineland Farms 25k Trail Challenge we finally finished on the podium behind the strong performances of Brent & Amy Tkaczyk as well as Ri Fahnestock.

One & Done
1. 6 Hours of Pats Peak
2. Gunstock Winter Triathlon
3. Muddy Moose 14-Miler

To be fair, these events were all very well run. The 6 Hours of Pats Peak was a great opportunity to race with my son Brayden, but we both felt the course wasn't one we were eager to ride again. Each loop included two brutal ski slope climbs. With all the awesome singletrack to ride in NH, using a ski slope seems a little unoriginal.

In the next few weeks I'll be planning my 2010 racing calendar and will announce my schedule right here.

UP NEXT: More rest...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

MNT EPIC

Sunday River, MAINE--Today's 2nd Annual MNT EPIC had it all: thirty degree temps, hellish climbs, wicked descents, wind, rain, sun, and even snow on the summits! My last race of 2009 was my first attempt at this really new race and it definitely lived up to the billing. A very strong aR showing included Tim Cox, Justin Snair, Ryan Welts, Brent & Amy Tkaczyk, Steve Sprague, and yours truly. This Trail Monsters designed course (see video below) was pretty straightforward with two climbs (3361') and two descents (3346') over 12 rugged miles summiting 8 peaks. My "strategy" (if you could call it that in a race where I had zero idea how long such an adventure would take) was to run as much of the first 1300' climb as possible placing myself as far up in the field as I could figuring eventually everyone would be walking. I carried a small hydration bottle pack with a Hammer Gel and some Endurolytes but left the bottle empty for the first climb to aid station #1 where I would fill up with their fluids. My early tactics worked well as I was running in 6th place behind teammates Tim, Justin, and Ryan. My first descent to the base of Jordan Bowl was a harbinger of things to come as I lost a spot to the overall female winner who FLEW by me down the hill. I caught her briefly on the ensuing climb but she slowly pulled away from me and never looked back. Near the summit of Spruce Peak it actually started spitting snow...and it's freakin' October! It's a darn good thing I had my new Moeben arm sleeves on as I was sporting the new aR sleeveless racing shirt. I basically ran alone for the next 30 minutes to the turnaround at Oz where I saw a group of six runners, racing together, as I doubled back against them. We exchanged words of encouragement and I implored them to catch me so I'd have someone to run with at the end (RETROSPECT: that probably wasn't a wise idea). From the high point at Oz there were roughly 4 miles to the finish and they were all downhill. Easy right? Apparently descending mountains is my Kryponite. In less than a mile the entire group of six had passed me and were quickly out of sight. In the blink of an eye I went from a very solid top 10 finish to a slightly disappointing 13th overall. Perhaps the hardest thing to swallow was racing so strong for 3300' of climbing and 8 miles only to give it all away running downhill. With under 2 miles to go we hit a section of singletrack that ordinarily would have been the most fun part of the course for me but my woeful hydration (including Gatorade..ughhh) resulted in both sets of adductors cramping as I made a quick 90 degree cut on a muddy switchback. Slowing to a walk I took another 2 Endurolytes (my 5th & 6th of the day) and finished the little bit of Gatorade/water I had left. Once again the Endurolytes saved me and I was running again in less than 2 minutes. The last 50 meters of the race was run on the wife carry course with the log hurdle and water pit as "optional" obstacles. With a healthy dose of 'crowd pressure' I managed to negotiate them both and finished unofficially in 2:09. Although my effort wasn't an '09 highlight, the efforts of Tim (2nd), Justin (5th), Ryan (6th), and Amy (2nd female) absolutely were! The Pumpkinhead Ale, BBQ, and live band seemed to sooth my wounds and before long the bitter disappointment of that final 4 miles was just a memory. The combination of fall foliage, beautifully cool weather, epic course, and great friends made this race a "must do" for 2010. I just need to work on getting better running downhill. Can you believe that, downhill?!

NEXT UP: 6 weeks of rest before I start preparing for the 2010 snowshoe racing season!

[Photo cred: me, Brent, Amy, Tim; 8-peak elevation profile; the start; a view from North Peak]

From the folks at Trail Monster:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pinnacle Challenge V

Newport, NEW HAMPSHIRE--I must admit I really enjoy the handful of "team" events I get to do each year. The Pinnacle Challenge is one of those and today 16 teammates and I travelled to the Lake Sunapee area for the only double-duathon that I'm aware of in all of New England. This year was by far the biggest turnout of aR athletes with four teams of 4 plus Steve Sprague again racing as a solo. As the teams were developed it looked as if our three all-male teams (aR, aR-2, and aR-3) would be fairly evenly matched while our lone co-ed entry (aR-4) looked to be very competitive in their class. Friday I received notice that aR-2's road runner, Justin Snair, was a scratch for health reasons. A frantic scramble ensued and resulted in a last minute replacement...a very fast last minute replacement, former CBNA runner Derek Hamel. The race began under cloudy skies but surprisingly the temps were very mild compared with yesterday's bone chilling rain. Steve Wolfe (aR), Derek (aR-2), Kurt Hansbury (aR-3), and Karen (aR-4) led the race off. Derek was the first road runner finisher of the entire event entering the transition area in a blistering 26:20. Steve McCusker (aR-2), who had by his own admission never led a race, left the transition area first and began the 5.3 mile mountain bike course. My road runner, Steve Wolfe, was exactly 2:00 minutes behind Derek and with a quick switch of the timing chip I headed out after the 2007 King of the Glen. No more than 300 meters into the course riders are faced with a 100+ step climb UP a set of wooden stairs. As I threw my bike onto my shoulder the handlebar end swung around and hit me directly in the eyeball. Not too seriously injured, I kept climbing taking two steps at a time until I could feel the pH level in my quads begin to bottom out. Nearing a flat section toward the top of one of the first climbs I saw Steve, slumped over his handlebars. I quickly surmised that his troubles were of the physical, not mechanical, variety and I asked if he needed help. Not hearing him answer either way but thinking I saw him shake his head "no" I rode past him and continued the 20 minute climb. I felt strong and rode many of the technical sections of the course that had dogged me in the previous two years despite the wet & slippery conditions. One minor chain suck in the last mile had me off the bike briefly while I pulled it free. I entered the TA in 42:34 setting a PR on this course at this race. I handed the timing chip to Geoff Cunningham who took off for the road bike section. Steve finished about 13 minutes behind me and when he had caught his breath explained why he was slumped at the top of the first climb. He had apparently gulped a mouthful of water just moments before heading out. When he got to the top of the stairs he felt like he was going to vomit. Holding it back he attempted the first rideable climb. Reaching a level place he couldn't hold back any longer and vomited that gulp of water...and the DD croissant he had eaten before the race. While that alone would have halted nearly anyone else, he also aspirated the vomit when he took a deep breath. With lungs burning he managed to continue to ride. That's why they call him the King. Geoff ripped a 37:59 and handed off for the final time to our trail runner anchor Brent Tkaczyk. Making up considerable time on the road bike, aR-2 road cyclist Jay Myers hit the TA less than 12 minutes behind Geoff and sent road & trail star Tim Cox off to try to run Brent down. With just 3.5 miles to cover the gap was too much to overcome as Brent crossed the finish line in 26:20 for an overall finish time for us of 2:16:40. Tim, running the fastest trail split of the entire field, taped in 23:58 (2:26:17). Despite heroic efforts from our road runner, road cyclist, and trail runner we finished :56 off the All-Male podium in 4th place. Our overall finish time was also the 4th fastest of all 23 teams. aR-2 finished 8th overall with aR-3 & aR-4 placing 15th & 16th. Of note, our co-ed team (aR-4) finished on the podium in their class. Congratulations to Karen, Sarah Silverberg, Scott Graham, and Rich Lavers as well as the other aR athletes Brayden Dunn and Austin Stonebraker. And a special thank you to Jay Curry who joined us and had a very solid road bike split of 41:30. The Pinnacle Challenge never fails to disappoint and thanks to our friends at Redhook we had plenty of cold beer waiting for us and Rich Lavers won the aR drawing for FREE BEER FOR A YEAR. Does it get any better I ask you?

NEXT UP: MNT EPIC, Sunday River, Maine

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Reach The Beach

Hampton Beach, NEW HAMPSHIRE--The 11th Annual Reach The Beach Relay is in the book! And what an event it was...great weather, great teammates, and fresh legs. We finished 193/400 averaging 8:17's for 200+ miles (finish time of 28:40:38). The "other" acidotic RACING entry in RTB, acidotic X (Capt'n by Kurt Hansbury), beat us by only 11 minutes. It's worth noting that this was the first RTB for each of them making their victory over us even more impressive. Our 12-person team had 4 newbies and Erik ended up pulling a 4th lap when Bobby John went down with a hammy he suffered within the first 100 meters of the start of the race! Our group (Van #2) laughed the entire way from Cannon to Hampton thanks in large part to RTB lifer Nick and his RTB virgin wife Sarah. My face actually hurt at one point from smiling so much. Guess I need to do that more often. Karen was tough, as usual, and actually ran faster as the race went along. She claims the cooler temps were the difference, but I think we both have learned a lot in the past three years of the event with regard to pacing, nutrition, and resting. It was great to have Kevin, and his calming leadership, back in our van again. And of course Capt. Rousseau did not disappoint...once again. If there's ever someone you can count on to hammer hard for 28 hours it's Matt. He ran 6:09's for his final 2.0 mile leg. We barely managed to arrive at the TA ahead of him. Finally, I felt as good at this event as I ever have. The two doubles a week for the past two months paid off. Zero health issues, minimal soreness, and only a little leg weariness during my last 2.2 miler. My times were 42:06 (6.61 miles @ 6:22 pace), 1:06:15 (9.23 miles @ 7:16's), and 12:52 (2.2 miles @ 5:51s). Q: With 3000 something runners from all over the country spread out over 200 miles what are the chances of running with someone you know? A: Pretty good if it's Reach The Beach. With approximately 2 miles left in my first leg I caught PR Racing's Chris Benson and slowed to run with him 1.) because I didn't want to kill it the first leg and have nothing left for the other two and 2.) it seemed like bad mojo to catch him, chat with him, and then leave him in the dust. Not real neighborly. It actually helped the last few miles fly by very quickly. Chris is a great runner and doesn't mind the chatter during RTB. Turns out I saw him a number of other times throughout the rest of the event but never had a chance to run with him again. It was great to see so many acidotic RACING teammates representing us at this fantastic event. Here are the teammates that raced to the beach this weekend; acidotic RACING: Karen Dunn, Kevin Burt, Matt Rousseau, Nick Lavoie, Sarah Lavoie, Erik Roy, Marc Lesniak, Tammy Hickey, Ron Pelton, John "Bobby" Keely, Austin Stonebraker; acidotic X: Kurt Hansbury, Scott Graham, Dave Burns, Steve Sprague; and lastly Steve Wolfe, Rich Lavers, Jay Myers and Liz Hall racing for other entries. And thanks to our great friends at Redhook we enjoyed some cold beers at the finish!

Next Up: Pinnacle Challenge V

Thursday, September 17, 2009

NH-12 Adventure Race

Pawtuckaway State Park, Nottingham, NH--Last weekend Jay, Liz, and I raced the 12 Hour USARA Qualifier. It was Liz's first 12 hour adventure race and the first time Jay and I had raced co-ed together. We spent the first 6 hours on the mountain bikes riding some of the wettest, gnarliest, singletrack Pawtuck has to offer. Actually, "riding" is being a little generous. We spent a fair amount of time hike-a-biking. CP11, located on the Woronoco Trail, gave us fits and we ended up mispunching an O-course control. By the time we rode into the paddle TA the rain had been coming down for hours. Cold, wet, and tired we missed the cutoff for the full paddle course and instead were sent out to locate only CP's 11-16. This easy section took us roughly :45 to finish. After a quick change of clothes and a bite to eat we set out on the trek course and the final 5 hours of the race. I took over the nav for the first three orienteering controls and we essentially walked up to each of them. CP4 would be a challenge as we were forced to bushwack over 2 kms to Round Pond. With little trouble we located the control and headed to South Mountain for the special challenge at CP5. Upon arriving at the fire tower at South Mountain (CP5) we found there was at least one other co-ed team working to find the three special clues (A, B, & C) located in close proximity to the summit. A crude hand drawn map (with no features and not to scale) showed the approximate locations and clues to the three special controls at CP5. A was relatively easy to solve as it's answer was written on a trail sign within 25 meters of the tower. B, on the other hand, was turning into quite the riddle for us and the growing number of other teams who began to arrive at the CP. After 20 minutes of fruitless searching we were informed by the RDs (via the volunteer standing at the summit...in the rain) that we should probably proceed straight to CP10 and then the finish because it was likely the rain had "washed away the clues". Huh? By the time this turn of events was announced it was approximately 4:45ish and we had a little over an hour to cover 5 miles and make it to the finish before the 6:00 pm deadline. With maps that resembled oatmeal (from not protecting them well enough from the elements...NOTE: Mom, I need a new map case for Christmas) we hobbled down South Mountain in the general direction of the finish line. A combination of walking & running resulted in our 5:55 pm finish arrival. Although we finished off the podium we did manage a Top 10 finish (out of 17 teams) and I think we found a new female adventure racing teammate. Liz Hall showed why she is one of the top female triathletes in New England. Her physical strength was matched only by her mental toughness as she fought through a couple of hard falls on the mountain bike to essentially pace us on the way off South Mountain. She remained patient and supportive the entire day even when things weren't quite going our way. I was very proud of how the three of us competed. Full results can be viewed at http://www.racingahead.com/results.html.

NEXT UP: Reach The Beach Relay

Monday, August 31, 2009

Update

I suck as a blogger. As the days turn to weeks and my blog drops to the bottom of other peoples blog lists I somehow become less and less motivated to post. My silence is as much a function of my lack racing as it is my lack of things to say. Since the 24HOGG I've taken a week of recovery, determined my racing schedule for the rest of the year, and began purposeful training for the 12 hour adventure race and Reach The Beach Relay coming up in back to back weeks. Just a few days ago teammate Steve Sprague sent me a link to a mountain race up at Sunday River, the MNT EPIC, coming up on the 11th of October. I was sort of looking for a end of the season challenge and it sounds like the 12 miler at the MNT EPIC may be just the thing. I also had a chance to meet a new teammate, Ryan Welts of Milford, NH this past weekend. Ryan contacted me interested in learning more about who we are and what we do. Austin and I met him for a run at Mt. Blue Job this weekend and he seems like a really nice guy and super competitive endurance athlete. He'll make an excellent addition to the team. I'll leave you with this...since hearing and seeing this video a little while back I can't get it out of my head. If you're wondering what I'm listening to on my iPod before a race, this is it. Play it loud.

Monday, August 10, 2009

24 Hours of Great Glen

WARNING: Extremely long blog entry. I have broken my own cardinal rule for blogging...no longer than a screen view. Because of this I'll give those with short attention spans (like mine) the spoiler...acidotic RACING "B" won the acidotic vs. acidotic race and Ted Hall was the '09 King of the Glen. It's a great story if you've got the time.


Gorham, NEW HAMPSHIRE--The 24 Hours of Great Glen is fast becoming one of my...okay, it is my favorite event of the year (with the upcoming Reach The Beach Relay a close second). The 2009 version was by far the most fun and competitive race I've ever been involved with at "The Glen". The reason for the great time and great racing was due entirely to the crowd we brought to the base of Mt. Washington...Ted Hall, Austin Stonebraker, Steve Wolfe, Steve Sprague, Nick Pennell, my brother Jay, and my son Brayden. When it became possible to field two teams of 4 the task was to put together two evenly matched groups to at least make the racing interesting from an acidotic vs. acidotic standpoint. Historically the sport division at the 24HOGG is very competitive with the Top 10 teams doing at least 26 laps. In addition, we also include a race within a race with the crowning of the King of the Glen award for the most outstanding acidotic RACING teammate at the event. As it would turn out, the racing for both the acidotic vs. acidotic and King of the Glen would come down to the last lap.

acidotic RACING vs. acidotic RACING-B
It's not easy trying to come up with names for more than one acidotic RACING entry at an event and it often happens at the adventure & mountain bike races we do. Without any disrespect I registered the two teams as acidotic RACING and acidotic RACING-B. I may have been trying to get in the heads of our "B" squad (can you guess which 'team' I raced on?) but that thought only dawned on me after someone mentioned that "B" sometimes stands for "beaters". That euphemism was commonly used in high school to describe our JV squad. Either way I think a couple of the "B" teamers may have been a little bent, perhaps silently. That slow burn may have lit a fire under them because the racing between the two teams was incredible. For the record, acidotic RACING included Ted, Jay, Brayden, and myself while acidotic RACING-B consisted of Steve S., Steve W., Nick, and Austin. Right out of the gate, Ted our first rider, set the tone with a blistering 48:25 which would turn out to be the fastest acidotic RACING lap of the event. The 8 minute lead he built on that initial lap would grow to over 20 minutes by the time our fourth rider, Brayden took his turn. Mechanicals, or bike breakdowns, are part of any mountain bike race but they are much more common at the 24HOGG because of the number of miles ridden and the condition of the course...super muddy. Brayden, and acidotic RACING, experienced his/our first mechanical of the race with a busted chain on his first lap. Steve W. took advantage and not only made up the gap between the two teams, his put acidotic RACING-B ahead by 3 minutes. The "B" team's lead would be short lived however as Ted regained our advantage and again placed us almost 9 minutes ahead. We would maintain that lead though the rest of the afternoon as both teams turned in strong and consistent laps. By the time our first "night" doubles came up (we traditionally ride two laps back-to-back at night to give everyone a longer break) we had built the difference back to 16 minutes. Then it happened, our 2nd mechanical of the race. Ted flatted on the 1st of his two night laps and after struggling with an incompatible pump he finally received aid from a fellow rider and turned in a slow lap for him at 1:17:18. That bike failure reduced our lead to just under 2 minutes. Within moments of Ted taking out on his 2nd lap, Austin began his 1st night double. Obviously fresher, Austin clocked the fastest acidotic RACING night lap of the race with a 59:33 and put acidotic RACING-B back on top by 5 minutes. For the next two laps (#11 & #12) "B" built on their margin increasing the lead to 8 minutes by the time I rode my first night lap at just past midnight. When "B" decided to hold off on riding their night doubles until 9:00 pm (we started at 7:30 pm) it put our two teams out of sequence. My first night lap was Nick's second and with his sketchy health going into the event I was able to make up their lead and then some despite losing my lighting system with 3 miles to go in my 2nd night lap. Finishing with just a headlamp I clocked my slowest turn of the event with a 1:06:57. Despite the lighting issue, we had once again gone ahead but this time by over 22 minutes. But, like any great heavyweight tilt, the match was far from over. On Brayden's 2nd lap his lighting system also croaked and he made it out of the woods with barely more than a flashlight. That misfortune was quickly capitalized on by Steve S., also riding lap #16, putting "B" back on top by 12 minutes. They would maintain the lead until lap #19, when I was able to overcome the 1 minute advantage Steve W. had on me at the start. When the lap was finished we were back on top but by less than 5 minutes. With Sunday morning in full swing the racing action began to heat up as quickly as the day with no less than 3 lead changes in the final 4 laps. Lap #20 was a battle between Steve S. and Brayden. The hotshot teen rookie had a 4 minute lead on the 24HOGG veteran but finished a minute behind him. On Lap #21, with that minute gap to make up, Ted took on "B"'s top gun Austin. The two traded blows the entire lap with the racing almost literally wheel to wheel. When it was finished Ted had helped us regain the lead by nearly two minutes. Now with 2 laps likely left in the event before the cannon fired at noon everything seemed in place for a pair of acidotic RACING "victory laps". Nick had pulled out of the event after his 4th lap due to health issues leaving "B" down to three riders. acidotic RACING "B" had decided (or more likely Steve W. had decided) that the only self-proclaimed 'non-mountain biker' would ride the final two laps of the event in the most hellish set of doubles imaginable in the 24HOGG! When lap #22 began, Jay had a minute lead on the Wolfeman. When lap #22 ended Steve had put "B" back on top...by 16 minutes!? The irony is that Jay is one of the most accomplished mountain bikers I've ever seen and Wolfey is, well, he's not. Our 4th mechanical of the day would turn out to spell defeat for us and sweet victory for team "B". Jay's chain broke 4 times during his final lap. Steve W., "riding scared", passed him and never looked back. By the time Jay handed me the baton for the final lap of the event (#23 if you're playing at home) Steve was long past blueberry hill and on his way through the meadow. I managed to make up some of the gap, but alas not all of it. I rode a 57:24 and he pulled a 1:04:59 which was an incredible time for him considering it was his 2nd in a row! Team "B" took home the acidotic RACING title and the two plus cases of Redhook. Theirs was a victory well earned.
#
King of the Glen

Overall
1. Ted (9 pts) *2009 King of the Glen*
2. Austin (11 pts)
3. Chris (12 pts)
4. Steve W. (20 pts)
5. Jay (21 pts)
6. Steve S. (23 pts)
7t. Nick (37 pts)
7t. Brayden (37 pts)

Fastest Lap
1. Ted (48:15)
2. Chris (49:18)
3. Jay (50:00)
4. Austin (51:17)
5. Steve S. (56:00)
6. Steve W. (57:21)
7. Nick (1:02:42)
8. Brayden (1:06:59)
#
Cumulative Time (Fastest 4 Laps)
1. Ted (3:26)
2. Austin (3:32)
3. Chris (3:34)
4. Jay (3:47)
5. Steve W. (3:59)
6. Steve S. (4:02)
7. Nick (4:49)
8. Brayden (4:56)
#
Fastest Night Lap
1. Austin (59:33)
2. Chris (1:00:01)
3. Steve W. (1:05:36)
4. Ted (1:05:54)
5. Jay (1:07:21)
6. Steve S. (1:12:43)
7. Nick (1:12:59)
8. Brayden (1:19:19)
#
Fastest Last Lap
1. Ted (53:01)
2. Austin (55:31)
3. Chris (57:24)
4. Steve S. (1:01:37)
5. Steve W. (1:04:59)
6. Brayden (1:06:59)
7. Jay (1:20:40)
8. Nick (1:30:10)
#
Total Laps
1. Steve W. (7)
2t. Chris (6)
2t. Austin (6)
2t. Jay (6)
2t. Steve S. (6)
2t. Ted (6)
7. Brayden (5)
8. Nick (4)
#
Much like the team title, the KOG was settled with the final laps. Ted and Austin were clearly the class of the acidotic RACING set of entry's and the two giants hammered it out the entire race. Ted Hall in the end was able to edge out his rival with a blistering sub 54 minute last lap.
#
Next Up: 12 Hour Adventure Race USARA Qualifier, Pawtuckaway State Park, NH
#
[Photo creds: Team acidotic RACING (Chris, Brayden, Jay, Ted-KOG), Jay in pink robe, Ted-KOG on Blueberry Hill at start, bikes in waiting, "fixing" Austin's big ring, Redhook is always with us]

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A walk in the woods

Mt. Hancock, NEW HAMPSHIRE--Karen, Madison, Jim, Ken, and I took advantage of the beautiful weather (and my vacation) to tag South & Mt. Hancock this morning. Two interesting milestones were reached as Madison climbed her first 4k in the Whites and I climbed my 24th, marking the 1/2 way point. After breakfast at the Tilt'n Diner we picked Ken up in Lincoln outside his timeshare where he's spent the week with his wife on a vacation of their own. We pushed off the Kanc trailhead by 08:30 and lazily made our way up the trail stopping often for pictures and taking our time with the numerous water crossings. Both Jim and Ken noted how unusual it was for the stream levels to be this high at this time of the year. Just another reflection of how wet this summer has been. When we finally got to the Hancock Loop Trail we approached South Hancock first. The climb was pretty steep and I stayed directly on Ken's heels letting him do most of the work. We reached the summit of South Hancock shortly before 11:00. My first time there I took in the scenic outlook and snapped a couple of pictures while we waited for the rest of the crew. After everyone else had arrived and we had grabbed a sip and a snack we headed across the ridge to Mt. Hancock. With nearly all of the elevation out of the way the walk over was easy and the footing very good. We reached the summit around noon and took advantage of the sun and the views to eat lunch. Ken and Jim entertained us the entire time with their back and forth "arguing" over the names of the peaks visible from the summit. It would take the map back at the trailhead to confirm what neither of them had identified (convincingly)...they were the Oceola's. The descent down from Mt. Hancock was steep and had it's fair share of scree to negotiate. We ran across quite a few folks climbing up the opposite way. We arrived back at the cars around 2:30. Pretty easy day as 9.something mile hikes in the Whites go. It was great to spend it with family (Ken is like family) and be there to see my oldest daughter bag her first 4k.



Next Up: 24 Hours of Great Glen, Gorham, NEW HAMPSHIRE

[Photo cred: Madison, Chris, & Karen on Mt. Hancock, scenic lookout from South Hancock, Madison & Pop descending from Mt. Hancock]

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Snowshoeing in August

Yeah, I realize it's August 2nd but it's never too early to begin planning a snowshoe racing series. In 2009 the Granite State Snowshoe Series (GSSS) was born as the collection of existing NH-based snowshoe races were organized together to further promote snowshoe racing in the region. Whether causal or coincidental, all six races in the series saw record numbers of participants. The series also developed a strong team aspect to this individual sport as a number of groups raced under united team colors including Dungeon Rock Racing, Rochester Runners, CMS, Team TNT, and of course the series champions...acidotic RACING. In addition to team excellence, the series witnessed the rise of two stars in the sport, Jim Johnson (CMS) and Liz Hall (acidotic RACING). These two athletes captured the men's and women's series titles. They were not, however, the only top athletes to compete in the series. Both categories saw fierce battles for podium positions with the Top 3 overall spots determined on the last racing weekend of the series. Laurel Valley, Leslie Dillon, Diane Levesque, Ri Fahnestock, Scott Graham, Jay Myers, and Steve Wolfe all either finished on the series podium or were within points of doing so.

Looking forward to the winter of 2010, the northeast will be the epicenter of snowshoe racing in the United States as the US Championships will be held in Syracuse, NY on March 5-7th. Not to be outdone, the GSSS will add a Granite State Snowshoe Championship event on March 13th (tentative) at a location to be determined. The original six series races will return with the possibility of an additional one or two races added before this fall. The 2010 GSSS schedule is set to be released very soon on the GSSS website. Check it frequently in the next few weeks. Snowshoe racing is argueably the fastest growing winter sport in the northeast and the success of our series is a testament to that fact.

[Photo cred: acidotic RACING's Jay Myers at the Pooh Hill Snowshoe Scramble, Madison, NH]

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pemi Wild Ultra

Pemigewasset Wilderness, NEW HAMPSHIRE-- Webster's defines "epic" as extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope. For me, completing the Pemigewasset Wilderness Loop in a single day is an epic trip...31 miles+/-, ten 4k footers, and 9700 feet of climbing. Making it a 2-person team "event" made it an epic race. In 2004, Jay, Ken, and I looped the Pemi (clockwise) in just under 18 hours. We vowed that one day we'd be back and try it in the other direction. Not only did we return on Saturday, we brought friends. Having read a little about team trail racing in the West I thought it would be fun to try to organize a team outing and see what all the buzz was about. And the Pemi Wild Ultra was born. The rules were simple, each team of 2 would have to stay within 50 meters of each other and follow the pre-determined "counter-clockwise" loop around the Pemi Wilderness. First team out "wins". Five teams assembled for a 4:00 am start from the Lincoln Woods trailhead. Mike Wade & Steve Wolfe walked for the first 10 meters and then began running and never looked back. They were followed closely by Jay Myers & Steve Kramer, Kevin Burt & Scott Dodier, Ken Young & I, and finally Mike Sallade & Sarah Silverberg. Not long after getting onto the Wilderness Trail, Ken received his first (of two) "nature calls" of the day. The Mediterranean pizza from the night before had his bowel sideways right from the start. At the West Bond spur we caught a brief glimpse of the two lead teams (Mike & Steve, Jay & Steve) who were running neck & neck. Kevin & Scott were about 10 minutes ahead of us at the time but were looking very fit & strong. We arrived at Galehead Hut (the unofficial 1/2 way pole), in approximately 6 hours to see Mike & Steve on their way out to start the 2nd half of the race. After we refilled our bladders & bottles we dropped our bags for the out & back to Galehead. Less than 100 meters up the trail we ran across Jay & Steve who were descending. The two had fallen back from the leaders after Jay suffered a severly sprain ankle coming down from South Twin (described by some as one of the gnarliest pitches in the Whites). Near the Galehead summit we again ran across Kevin & Scott who were working hard to maintain their lead over us. Although we had less than 17 miles to go, we still had to ascend the two hardest climbs in the Pemi...Garfield & Lafayette. By the time we reached the summit of Lafayette I had burned through my 100 ounces of water and was bone dry with 10.5 miles to go. Fortunately, my father had planned to mule water to the summit of Lafayette by way of Greenleaf Hut. I eagerly accepted his Nalgene bottle of water and after a quick bite to eat we were off to traverse the Franconia Ridge. Right on cue the sun appeared as we trekked across the ridge and afforded us spectacular views of the Pemi Wilderness and beyond. The climb down Mt. Flume was painful as 25+ miles of pounding began to take their toll on both of us. By the time we reached the last 'runable' section of Osseo Trail Ken's knee had flared on him and every step was agony. With running reduced to 15-20 shuffles at a time we attempted to settle into a quick walking cadence as we passed the 15 hour mark and drank our last few ounces of water. Just before 7:30 PM we once again reached the Lincoln Woods trailhead. At an official finish time of 15:28, both Ken & I set PR's for this loop. Back at the condo, the best part of the day was already going on...eating lasagna, drinking Redhook, and hearing all the stories from the day. The individual efforts from everyone involved were nothing short of phenomenal. The Pemi Wild Ultra is and forever will be an epic race, but it's the epic tenacity of an acidotic RACING athlete that will always stand out to me.

FINAL STANDINGS
1.) Mike & Steve [12:53]
2.) Jay & Steve [14:52]
3.) Kevin & Scott [15:10]
4.) Chris & Ken [15:28]
5.) Sarah & Mike [18:11]

[PHOTO CRED: Chris & Ken on Mt. Lafayette, Franconia Ridge, Mt. Flume summit, carnage]

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

In transition...

Last fall was a sobering reminder that for me, 9 months of training and racing is now just a little too much considering where I am in my life. When AT forced me to shut things down for nearly a month and sleep with a God forsaken night splint I made a deal with the devil that if I could ever run again (that's how bad it was by the way) I would reorganize my training and make sure I didn't willfully bring this on again. It got better and I got busy at the drawing board working on a preventative plan for 2009. At the outset the strategy was simple, continue to train in 4 week cycles (3 "hard", 1 "recovery") but schedule two week transition cycles approximately every 6-8 weeks. These transition cycles were intended to provide physiologic and psychological restoration from the rigors of 1.) training, 2.) racing, and 3.) life in general. Everyone knows that our competitive pursuits are intimately intertwined with our personal lives. Nothing happens in a vacuum. For instance, when our training loads are exceedingly high for protracted periods of time it can cause both physical (ie. altered sleep patterns, soft tissue breakdown) and emotional reactions (ie. increased irritability). I'm a firm believer in training the minimal amount to achieve the maximal results, but despite this tried and true theory I still broke down. I also subscribe to the theory of taking rest before you need to rest. With less than a week to go in this, my second transition cycle of the year, I feel very rested and eager to take on the second half of what is shaping up to be the busiest racing schedule of my competitive life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Pat's Peak Mtb Race

Henniker, NEW HAMPSHIRE--The concept of transference is an interesting topic in the field of exercise physiology. It's generally accepted that specific adaptations result from specific imposed demands (aka S.A.I.D. principle). In other words, in order to improve cycling performance you have to include cycling in your training plan. Sounds elementary, and it is. Transference suggests that there may be some carry over with regard to physiologic adaptation (ie. lactate threshold, VO2 peak, increased mitochonrial density, fiber type distribution, etc.) between different training modes. Yesterday's Pat's Peak 6-Hour Mountain Bike Race in Henniker would provide the perfect "laboratory" to see if the concept of transference actually does exist. Admittedly my focus for the past 6 months of training cycles has been running-specific (snowshoe, trail & road running/racing). I've probably had my bike out less than 15 times since the snow abated in April. No excuses, just the way it's gone. My trail & road racing since April has benefitted from the committment as I'm racing as well at age 40 than I ever have. With the 24 Hours of Great Glen mountain bike race approaching in less than a month, Pat's Peak would be an excellent gauge of my bike-fitness as well as a test of the above mentioned transference theory. Brayden and I (and support crew/family) met fellow teammate Steve Sprague on race day morning. Steve, always up for a challenge, was signed up as a solo for the 6 hour race while Brayden & I would ride it as a team. The roughly 5 mile ski slope loop included two major climbs totalling 750 feet of elevation gain. I'd estimate that 50% of the loop was very rideable singletrack with a fast twisty descent toward the finish. The RD estimated the average ride time would be 35 minutes a turn. Brayden, Steve, and I guessed we'd be closer to 45. Brayden led us off with the first lap of the event although a wrong turn (Steve made the same error as did a number of other riders) resulted in a needless descent quickly followed by a grueling return climb. His first lap clocked in around 55 minutes. While he recovered I set out for my first look at the course. The climbs were predictably brutal and with bright sunshine and temps in the upper 70's the entire field slowed to a granny gear convoy. Early on my legs felt remarkably strong and I committed myself to ride every climb. While others walked my fitness confidence grew. My first click clocked in around 41 minutes. As I entered the START/FINISH area I didn't see Brayden. Karen walked over and told me he wasn't feeling well and has requested to skip his turn. Without hesitation I headed back out for a 2nd lap. The climbs the second time around actually seemed a little shorter (as I now knew what to expect) and once again I rode each one. Although my second lap clocked in around 49 minutes, I was very happy with my physical performance...my newly repaired rear derailleur was a another story but mechanicals are part of racing. When I finished my 2nd lap Bryaden was still resting at our tech tent and I willingly joined him. After getting hydrated and fed he headed back out for his 2nd lap. By the time he returned it was obvious that we'd have the chance to put in just two more laps. With a hour of recovery my third lap felt very strong and clocked in at 45 minutes. Brayden rode our "glory lap" and finished just after the 6:00 pm horn. All in all, we rode 6 laps as a team. An excellent performance by us considering the general lack of riding each of us has done. Finally, to answer the question of transference...my lap times were as much a function of bike performance and technical skill as they were bike-specific fitness. In my mind, my running-focused training absolutely transfered to my climbing strength.

Next Up: Pemi Wild Ultra

[Photo cred: Chris riding through the finish chicane; Brayden at START/FINISH; Pat's Peak race venue; Chris riding Lap #3]



Thursday, July 9, 2009

Oh my aching derailleur

Bikes never seem to find a good time to break. Brayden and I are scheduled to race at the Pat's Peak Mountain Bike Race this Saturday (right...in less than 48 hours). This afternoon while finishing one last ride before race day my rear derailleur contorted in a position not typically compatible with lightweight alloy. The good news is the $25 derailleur hanger broke sparing my $125 Shadow XT . The bad news is I have one day to 1.) find a replacement, and 2.) re-install the derailleur and cable. In an eerily similar circumstance I shredded by last derailleur on a pre-ride of the 24 Hours of Great Glen course. A pre-ride! Not to be defeated I purchased a new set-up (my current XT) on site and raced without incident. Can you imagine a pair of running shoes crapping the bed two days before a race? Now I think I understand my running friends not understanding me.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

MDI Relay

Baa HaBa, MAINE--Leave it to the great folks at Crow Athletics to host one of the most unique events in one of the most beautiful places in New England, the MDI Relay on Mt. Desert Island, MAINE. This 'come as you are' no frills (and no pretension) old school road race is the way racing use to be before prize money and shoe contracts mucked things up. Draw a starting line in the dirt and say go. First one back to the beer is the winner. In a nutshell that's what Austin, Kurt, April, Steve, Karen, Maddie, Katy, and I did to celebrate the 4th of July. The MDI Relay is a 61+ mile loop around Mt. Desert Island travelling through such quaint seaside towns as Bar Harbor, Seal Harbor, Northeast Harbor, Southeast Harbor (anyone sensing a pattern here?), and Tremont. My day of racing would mercifully start and end early. I took the opening 13.67 mile leg and 07:00 start. Eight teams stepped to the line and the young gun from Colby College was out in a shot. He gapped the field within the first 250 meters followed by Maine running legend and MDI Relay (and MDI Marathon) RD Gary Allen of the host Crow Athletics. I tucked in behind a gentleman named Jon from the Somerville Road Runners (MA) and tried to settle in for a "easy morning run" on this beautiful island. At the mile marker my cohort Jon (running with a GPS) noted our first mile split was 6:12. Granted it was downhill, but that seemed a little fast for the start. Completely unaware of the terrain I decided to try to moderate my pace just in case it got hilly at some point. By the 3 mile mark I had pulled away from Jon and set my sights on Gary who had remained within eye shot from the start. Knowing a 200 meter lead was just a blink of an eye in a 1/2 marathon (+) I remained relaxed and began to feel myself pulling him in. By the time we reached the town of Bar Harbor I was on his shoulder. As we pulled through town I felt pretty comfortable that I could match his effort...at least for a while. Gary is one of the most accomplished distance runners in Maine and frankly anywhere in New England. This past April he celebrated his 30-Year Anniversary running the Boston Marathon by racing his 54th sub-3 hour marathon. Although I didn't quite realize it at the time, I was racing with a real running icon. On a couple of the climbs he'd pull away by 10 meters or so, but I'd reign him back in on the descents and flats and tuck in right behind his shoulder. With roughly 3 miles to go he said that he had no illusions of racing me to the 2nd place finish (we were waaaaaay behind the kid from Colby) and I agreed telling him I appreciated his pull and also had no plans of trying to outkick him to the transition. We finished shoulder to shoulder at 1:29:and change (6:30's) as I handed the baton (errr Barbie) off to Austin. As soon as we finished Gary was the first one to offer his hand in congratulations thanking me for pulling him to a sub 1:30 finish. Truth was, without Gary I would have been very happy to cruise along right around 7:00's. It was incredibly rewarding to learn that Gary's tenacity as a competitor was surpassed only by his graciousness as a host. He awarded me the 2nd place award for our leg (the pink granite beach stone pictured next to Barbie). The rest of the day flew by as we raced ahead of each of our runners, stopping periodically to cheer them on and provide aid. We raced in podium position for most of the day and ended up finishing in 6th place overall. To end a near perfect day of racing our hosts supplied a keg of Atlantic Brewing Company's Bar Harbor Real Ale. I think we've just discovered a new great way to celebrate the 4th of July. Thank you Crow Athletics.

Next up: Pat's Peak 6-HR Mountain Bike Race

[Photo cred: Barbie, MDI Relay course, Chris & Gary Allen, Bar Harbor]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Odd Double

Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE--This weekend had to have been one of the strangest doubles I've ever done. Death Race yesterday, Exeter Trail Race today. No matter how sore my back was this morning there was no missing Ri & Sarah's debut as RD's (and our own event). Last night I had tentatively made the decision to skip the 10 miler I had pre-registered for and instead race the 4 miler. When I arrived in Exeter a little after 8:00 AM and found Steve Wolfe he helped change my mind. According to Steve he too had heavy legs and a sore back and was just "planning to run eeeeeeasy". As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Anyone who has raced Steve knows his idea of "easy" isn't the same as most mere mortals. I was once again suckered, although he actually did me a favor. At the gun he was off like a shot. You would have thought he was racing the 4 miler! I did mention to him before the start that the trail narrows to fairly tight singletrack several hundred meters from the start and that it's best to secure a position early. Right away the lead pack including Steve and local orienteering master (and fantastic runner) Ernst Linder broke away from me and never looked back. I kept them in sight for a while but by the 5 mile mark I didn't see a soul for the rest of the race...until the two leaders ran by me going in the opposite direction! Just as soon as they ran past I came up on teammate Mike Sallade (volunteering today after placing 4th in the Death Race yesterday) and asked him if I was going in the wrong direction. He shouted "NO!" and I was left to ponder what the heck was going on? After a minute or two when nobody else ran by I surmised they must have taken a wrong turn. By the second half of the race I found a zone and quite astonishingly felt great...legs strong, no health issues at all. I finished unofficially right around 1:20 and 6th place overall (4th if you DQ the two guys who finished 1 & 2 and looped a couple miles of the course in the wrong direction). Steve Wolfe, despite his heavy legs and back spasms, taped in 3rd place overall but took home the winner's prize money when the top 2 wrong-way runners were DQ'd. Oh, and for future reference...Steve always races hard even when he's racing easy. Finally, it was also great to see so many teammates show up to race and volunteer including those I've mentioned as well as Maddie, Karen, Hayley, John Skewes, Jen Smith, Leslie Dillon (who won the 4 miler race outright!), and Joe Merriam.

PS. Ri & Sarah did a fantastic job as RD's and represented acidotic RACING incredibly well. I don't think I've ever done a 10 mile trail run that went by so fast! The course was exceptionally well marked (despite the wrong way runners) and simply a joy to race. When word of this race gets around it's sure to grow in '10.

Next up: MDI Relay, Bar Harbor, MAINE

Saturday, June 27, 2009

O'fer Death Race

Pittsfield, VERMONT -- Although I am interested in the performance of others, I usually can't bring myself to read an entire race report if I have to use the scroller-thingy on my mouse. Admit it...you don't read them either. Therefore, in an effort to simultaneously reduce my carbon footprint and spare you five minutes of your life you'll never get back I'll keep this brief. The picture to the left is me pulling my son's BMX (sans wheels & chain) and a root stock (which I hacked out of Mother Earth at approximately 05:15) under a small wooden bridge and through a rocky creek to roughly 50 meters of low lying barbed wire over said rocky creek. [NOT PICTURED: my pack wedged in a 5 gallon bucket]. By the way, I had just finished a looong 3 hour river scramble carrying all this junk. Shortly after this I hauled all my stuff across RT100 to a pile of twenty logs which had to be quartered and stacked. Having nearly made two adjusted cutoffs, I was racing literally on borrowed time. Carrying the smaller lighter axe (vs. standard issue lumberjack model) became a liability on this task as the 12+ inch diameter tree trunks were more than a little too much for my nimble, but overmatched camp axe. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) the last adjusted 10:30 cutoff for all logs quartered & stacked wasn't enough. I was DNF'd after having completed only 2 of the 14 challenges. Because I promised to keep it short I'll end my tale there, but believe you me there is PLENTY more to the story than that! The next time you see me ask about 1.) what happened to my teammate Dwight, 2.) what the hell a tap root is/does, and 3.) why thru hikers make great death racers.

PS. Thanks to 2008 Peak Races Series champion, Ri Fahnestock, for crewing for both Dwight and I...although it was a little like having Micheal Jordan watch you shoot jumpers.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Death Race Preparation

Mandatory Gear - Bicycle, Axe, String, Chain Break Tool (bicycle tool), Compass.

In four days Dwight and I will travel to Pittsfield, VT for perhaps the greatest challenge of our lives...the Death Race. Saturday I finished reading the Rock Warrior's Way and it really has helped me put this weekend into perspective. In my 20's this race would have held a much different meaning than it does today. What age has taken with respect to VO2max, muscle mass, and recovery time it has replaced with something far more important...wisdom. There is no "success" or "failure" this weekend, only learning. How often in our 9-5 existences do we truly get to experience what lies outside of our self-limiting comfort zones? To face fear and stay within the moment, open to the possibilities. There is a great deal to do before Saturday.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bow Lake Dam 15k

Strafford, NEW HAMPSHIRE--Life is great when you get to race in your hometown. Actually, I'm technically from Dover but Strafford is where I now call home. The Bow Lake Dam 15k was revived after a several year hiatus and the committee who brought this race back to the Strafford community did a tremendous job. Many of the homeowners along the 15k route set up water stops and there were at least 3 live bands playing music from driveways along the way. Multiple water stops and a ton of volunteers made race day that much more enjoyable. Mother Nature cooperated as well and bathed the beautiful lake loop with sunny skies and temps in the 70's. I met fellow teammate Steve Wolfe before the race and quickly finalized a race plan. Steve is recovering from a mysterious musculoskeletal injury that forced him to shut it down for several weeks. A fierce competitor and incredibly talented runner Steve agreed with the plan to go out together around 6:30's, survive the "hill", and then hammer to the finish. We figured by working together we may be able to pick up a couple of spots late in the race and pull each other to the finish. Our first split was just shy of 6:25's as I worked to find a groove. The rolling nature of the first 6 miles made it somewhat challenging to run consistent splits. A little fast here, a little slower there we stayed within a few meters right up to the monster climb. Funny thing was I sort of lost track of where I was on the course. As we climbed the hill the thought crossed my mind...if this is a roller before we get to the hill I may be in trouble. Little did I know I was actually ascending the hill. As I plugged away I began to slowly open up a gap on Steve. He claimed I opened up a 30 second lead at one point during the climb. When I finally realized I was actually climbing the killer hill I was almost 2/3 of the way to the top. This immediately bolstered my confidence and I set my sights on the guy ahead of me. By the time I finished the climb I was on his shoulder. As we ran down toward Tasker Hill Road I peeked behind me and noticed Steve slowly closing the gap. Flying down Tasker Hill Road (marginally out of control) Steve caught and passed us. He never looked back. The final mile on Bow Lake Road was a struggle as I felt my engine running out of gas. Steve widened the gap between myself and the younger guy whom I had caught and was now pulling away from me as well. In one last ditch effort not to lose another spot I looked behind me and felt the next runner was sufficiently back not to challenge at the finish. I held on for a 1:02:12 (unofficial). It was good enough for 10th place overall and 4th in the 40-49 age category. Imagine that...10th overall and still finish off the podium. Steve's incredible rally and finishing kick were good enough for 8th overall and 3rd in our age group. It was great to see him on the podium after shutting things down for a while. With no rest for the weary, Dwight will be here in less than 24 hours for a 3+ hour Death Race training session. It's a good thing you don't saw logs with your legs.

Next Up: Exeter Trail Race, Fort Rock, Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Exeter Trail Race Preview

Exeter, NEW HAMPSHIRE--This morning I met Ri, Sarah, & Mike at Fort Rock for a preview of the course for June 20th's Exeter Trail Race presented by TEVA. This will be acidotic RACING's first true trail race and Ri & Sarah's debut as RDs. The 10 & 4 mile courses begin on the same trail starting at the parking area of the Henderson-Swasey Town Forest. At roughly the 2 mile mark the two races diverge as the 4 milers will loop back to the start/finish while the 10 milers ditch under RT 101 through the tunnel to the Oaklands side of the network. Once through the tunnel there's another 6 miles to negotiate before coming back through the tunnel and finishing on the same course as the 4 milers. I've ridden at Fort Rock a time or two and it's definitely some of the sweetest and sickest mountain biking around. The roots, rocks, bridges, drops, and turns are plentiful enough to challenge even the most technical rider. As a trail race, the course that these two have set-up will have no rival in these parts. I've never raced on such technical trails and I suspect not many other competitors on June 20th will have either. Constant focus must be directed a meter in front of your feet as you work to pick the cleanest line through boulder fields and tree roots. Running behind another competitor (as I did with Ri for most of the run) significantly reduces sight lines and the follower is virtually at the mercy of the leader to chose the best footing. For the mountain goats in the audience there's not much (or any) significant elevation changes. Although what it may lack in elevation it more than makes up for it in turns. Mountain bikers hate riding straight lines and have designed the trail network as a two wheeled amusement ride. If you enjoy running trails you'll love this race. I don't think I've ever done a 10 miler (woods or roads) at 8:00 mile pace that has gone by any faster. I was actually a little disappointed when it was over. But alas, in two weeks I'll be back to hammer it for real.

PS. We've secured some awesome prizes from Nathan, Sunday River, Wheel Power, Serendipity, and of course Redhook. Those familiar with the prizes at our snowshoe races will not be disappointed with our trail race prizes! Registration is now OPEN!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Difficulty

Today happened to be "one of those days" at work that everyone has now and again. The wheels started to come off early and it seemed like one misfortune followed another. Extremely frustrated that things hadn't gone my way I stewed over the days events the entire commute home. When I sat down this evening to read I remembered a passage I had read a few days ago and decided to read it again.

"As we accept these responsibilities, we grow to accept a great truth: life is difficult. Once we fully accept difficulty as natural and normal, we cease to be offended or daunted when we encounter a struggle or a test. We can embrace these tests as opportunities. Difficult experiences are the way we learn, and they also are the way we can appreciate ease. We understand brightness by its contrast to dimness, happiness by its relationship to sadness. By embracing this duality of experiences, we allow ourselves to find peace within our difficulties rather than wasting our power on trying to escape them. We shift to a position of power by focusing on seeds of opportunity within difficulty and staying curious, by exploring reality instead of avoiding it."

From The Rock Warrior's Way by Arno Ilgner

This lesson applies not only to my professional experiences, but to my personal life and athletic endeavors as well. There is no growth within the realm of comfort. Great opportunity lies within the belly of the beast of great struggle.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chick Parm Redux

Have you ever put off a Sunday AM run 'til the afternoon and then regretted it every step of the way? We were heading down to MA this morning for a family function and I had very good intentions last evening of getting up and getting a quick 6 in before 7:30 AM. My first mistake was forgetting that in my chronically sleep deprived state, if it doesn't involve an entry fee or a starting line there's no way I'm getting out of bed before 7:00 AM on a Sunday. Mistake #2 came at the lunchtime meal when I went back for second's on the chicken parmesan. Believe it or not I passed on the cake. As it turned out later, I should have had a piece. Anticipating my state of mind after driving 90 minutes home on a Sunday afternoon I had already laid out my running clothes. The beautiful Chamber of Commerce morning had turned into an ominously cloudy afternoon but had yet to rain...until I stepped out of the garage on my way to run Donkey Hill. Before I finished the 200 meters of Cross Road the thunder clapped and the lightning flashed and all manner of cats & dogs descended from the heavens. I always say that being wet is a heck of a lot easier than getting wet. The first few minutes of my rainy 6 mile loop were the most uncomfortable...from a weather standpoint anyway. Remember the chicken parmesan I liked so bad and had to have seconds? I burped it the entire way. By the time I approached the last climb up 2CPR I was wishing I had eaten some cake. Anything would have tasted better in review than those breaded chicken cutlets in the tangy marinara.